An Unnecessary Woman de Rabih Alamaddine

Probabil cartea vă este mult mai familiară sub numele de Femeia de hârtie, tradusă la noi foarte recent. Părea genul de carte care mi-ar plăcea, așa că am citit-o în engleză (asta este mai mult încercarea mea lamentabilă de a scrie ceva despre cartea asta).

Nu prea știu niciodată cum se presupune că trebuie să reacționez la astfel de cărți: cumva simple, dureroase prin realismul poveștii, unde mereu găsești părticele din tine. Deși nu similară ca și poveste, An Unnecessary Woman mi-a dat același vibe ca Stoner, de exemplu.

Aaliya este acum o femeie în vârstă. A avut parte de câteva experiențe tumultuoase de-a lungul vieții, iar în fiecare an ea traduce una din cărțile ei preferate în arabică (apelând la edițiile în engleză și franceză a cărții respective). Nimeni, însă, nu i-a citit traducerile; ea le ține deoparte, iar în simpla acțiune a traducerii, vede un mod de a continua să trăiască.

I’ll be sitting at my desk and suddenly I don’t wish my life to be any different. I am where I need to be. My heart distends with delight. I feel sacred.

Cartea asta a fost dureros și extrem de tristă. Prea reală, aduce la suprafață un adevăr universal: oamenii sunt creaturi care, în majoritatea timpului, se simt singuri. Este o carte despre solitudine, și chiar dacă dorită și acceptată, este prezentă. Cea mai credincioasă companie de care a avut parte Aaliya au fost cărțile, iar în adevărurile pe care le rostește se regăsește rebeliunea celui care gândește. Cele mai multe lucruri pe care ea le-a spus se potrivesc cu părerile pe care le am și eu (probabil cei care mă știu cât de cât și-mi urmăresc blogul de ceva vreme, își vor da seama la ce mă refer din citatele de la sfârșitul postării). De obicei nu-mi place să zic așa ceva, pare puțin fals, dar de data asta nu m-ar deranja nici să fiu la bătrânețe o variantă mai puțin cool a Aaliyei.

De-asemenea, am simțit puțină mândrie când Cioran a fost menționat de două ori pe parcursul cărții, români care să ajungă în spațiu internațional sunt foarte rari, iar atunci când România nu este folosită ca locație exotică și îndepărtată, ci ca loc ce a dat și dă oameni de valoare, atunci iubesc puținm ai mult atât țara în care locuiesc, cât și autorul și cartea pe care-i citesc.

M-am simțit foarte conectată cu Aaliya, chiar dacă mai am mult de mers până să ajung la nivelul ei de cunoștințe și de devotament față de cărți. Mi-au plăcut mult și restul personajelor din carte, foarte umane și naturale, suflete realist pictate care locuiesc în (probabil) cel mai primitor oraș din lume, Beirut.

Simt că sunt multe de învățat din cartea asta, parte din cunoștințele Aaliyei fiind pasate cititorului prin contemplațiile ei. Modul ei de a vedea lumea însă este foarte alb-negru, binele și răul combinându-se mai degrabă în orașul ei mult iubit, decât în oamenii pe care-i întâlnește. Și în ciuda tonului depresiv, cartea se termină într-un mod atât de optimism și de plin de speranță! Exact ca și în viața reală: după ploaie, apare și soarele.

Nu știu ce să (mai) zic de cartea asta. Dacă iubești cărțile și ai o anume conexiune cu lumea de hârtie, atunci probabil cartea asta ți se potrivește!

Remembering Hannah, my one intimate, is never easy. I still see her before me at the kitchen table, her plate wiped clean of food, her right cheek resting on the palm of her hand, head tilted slightly, listening, offering that rarest of gifts: her unequivocal attention. My voice had no home until her.

Books in and of themselves are rarely boring, except for memoirs of American presidents (No, No, Nixon)—well, memoirs of Americans in general. It’s the “I live in the richest country in the world yet pity me because I grew up with flat feet and a malodorous vagina but I triumph in the end” syndrome. Tfeh!

if literature is my sandbox, then the real world is my hourglass—an hourglass that drains grain by grain. Literature gives me life, and life kills me. Well, life kills everyone.

Beginnings are pregnant with possibilities.

I am alone. It is a choice I’ve made, yet it is also a choice made with few other options available.

My country in the late 1930s was still trying to pull itself out of the fourteenth century. I’m not sure if it ever succeeded in some ways.

Death is the only vantage point from which a life can be truly measured. From my vantage point, as I watched men I didn’t recognize carry my ex-husband’s coffin away, I measured his life and found it wanting.

In other words, most of us believe we are who we are because of the decisions we’ve made, because of events that shaped us, because of the choices of those around us. We rarely consider that we’re also formed by the decisions we didn’t make, by events that could have happened but didn’t, or by our lack of choices, for that matter.

Even though I believe that the choice of a first book, the book that opens your eyes and quickens your soul, is as involuntary as a first crush, I still wish he’d chosen a different one.

There is none more conformist than one who flaunts his individuality.

Memory chooses to preserve what desire cannot hope to sustain.

We lie down with hope and wake up with lies.

Such a worrywart I am. I miss miracles blooming before my eyes: I concentrate on a fading star and miss the constellation. I overlook dazzling thunderstorms worrying whether I have laundry hanging.

I thought I’d be reading a new book today, but it doesn’t feel right, or I don’t feel like it. Some days are not new-book days.

The peasantry, when it wishes to escape peasantry, has always, for centuries, across all borders, escaped into a uniform.

Beirut is the Elizabeth Taylor of cities: insane, beautiful, tacky, falling apart, aging, and forever drama laden. She’ll also marry any infatuated suitor who promises to make her life more comfortable, no matter how inappropriate he is.

I, like everyone, want explanations. In other words, I extract explanations where none exist.

None of us knows how to deal with the aleatory nature of pain.

I bet you believe in the redemptive power of art. I’m sure you do. I did. Such a romantic notion. Art will rescue the world, lift humanity above the horrible quagmire it’s stuck in. Art will save you. 

I wasn’t that lucky. I also can’t say that I haven’t harmed a living soul. I sold books, after all.

May I admit that being different from normal people was what I desperately sought? I wanted to be special. I was already different: tall, not attractive and all. Mine is a face that would have trouble launching a canoe. I knew that no one would love me, so I strove to be respected, to be looked up to. I wanted people to think I was better than they were. I wanted to be Miss Jean Brodie’s crème de la crème. I thought art would make me a better human being, but I also thought it would make me better than you.

When I finish with whatever book I’m reading, I begin the last book I bought, the one that caught my attention last. Of course, the pile grows and grows until I decide that I’m not going to buy a single book until I read my stack. Sometimes that works.

Throughout her teenage years, she wrote her fantasies. They were detailed and intricate descriptions of romance, of marriage, never of sex, always of rescue. What about my fantasies? I wouldn’t consider them that—more like mild dreams or tame aspirations.

I remember reading an essay where the writer says that all we remember from novels are scenes or, more precisely, images.

Whenever I gingerly remove my mother’s noose from around my neck, it is with my own hands that I nearly strangle myself.

Dear contemporary writers, you make me feel inadequate because my life isn’t as clear and concise as your stories.

She felt the intimate loss of who she was meant to become. No loss is felt more keenly than the loss of what might have been. No nostalgia hurts as much as nostalgia for things that never existed.

It was Camus who asserted that American novelists are the only ones who think they need not be intellectuals.

Giants of literature, philosophy, and the arts have influenced my life, but what have I done with this life? I remain a speck in a tumultuous universe that has little concern for me. I am no more than dust, a mote—dust to dust. I am a blade of grass upon which the stormtrooper’s boot stomps. I had dreams, and they were not about ending up a speck. I didn’t dream of becoming a star, but I thought I might have a small nonspeaking role in a grand epic, an epic with a touch of artistic credentials. I didn’t dream of becoming a giant—I wasn’t that delusional or arrogant—but I wanted to be more than a speck, maybe a midget. I could have been a midget. 
All our dreams of glory are but manure in the end.

I’m not completely helpless. I am a functioning human being. Mostly. Just so you don’t make too much fun of me, the mostly above refers to functioning, not to human being.

I come to the museum to be by myself in the world; I am out of the apartment but not in a crowd.

Henri Matisse once said, “It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else.” I love this quote, love the fact that the most incandescent painter of the twentieth century felt this way. Being different troubled him. Did he genuinely want to paint like everybody else, to be like everybody else? Did he truly wish to belong?

I like men and women who don’t fit well in the dominant culture, or, as Álvaro de Campos calls them, strangers in this place as in every other, accidental in life as in the soul. I like outsiders, phantoms wandering the cobwebbed halls of the doomed castle where life must be lived.
To write is to know that you are not home.

I had little time for a god who had little time for me.

I am inoffensiveness incarnate. I don’t expect people to love me, like me, or feel anything at all toward me. I never wanted to be prominent enough to have enemies. I’m not suggesting that I’m congenitally shy, or that I’m a wallflower whose deepest desire is to bloom into a scandalously fragrant tiger lily, just that I try to live without interfering in the lives of others because I have no wish for them to interfere in mine.

We are all children when we sleep.

There must be a word in some language that describes the anguish you experience upon suddenly coming face-to-face with your terrifying future.

My soul is fate’s chew toy. My destiny pursues me like an experienced tracker, like a malevolent hunter, bites me and won’t let go. What I thought I left behind I find again. I’ll always be a failure, then, now, and forever. Fail again. Fail worse. I witness my life’s collapse.

She is a decent woman who isn’t used to deciphering the mutterings of monsters.

feel nostalgic for my once arid heart that knew how to cope with such loss.

In order to live, I have to blind myself to my infinitesimal dimensions in this infinite universe.

There are two kinds of people in this world: people who want to be desired, and people who want to be desired so much that they pretend they don’t.”

Ultimul e poate citatul meu preferat din cartea asta. Și sunt extrem de surprinsă la câte citate am găsit, când cartea nici 300 de pagini nu are. Mă îndoiesc că recenzia mea făcută la repezeală va convinge, dar poate măcar citatele își vor face treaba. 

2 comentarii:

  1. yui ce tare e cartea asta, mi-a atras atentia recenzia ta. chiar mi-ar placea sa citesc mai multe carti despre traducatori si despre oameni care iubesc cartile, despre singuratate

    1. Atunci asta cu siguranță ți-ar plăcea!