Elena, his sister, was going to stay with him all August. Maybe it would bleed into September a little, she warned, and Andrés said that was fine. What else could he say? The house in Almería was as much hers as it was his, on paper—they’d inherited it from their father twenty years earlier. Andrés and Elena were French (they grew up in Paris), but their parents had been Spanish, Spanish exiles. When it had become possible for their father to go back to Spain, he’d bought a house in his hometown, a few blocks from the sea, and Elena had taken up the habit of visiting for a week every summer, with her husband and her daughter. Andrés would come as well, stay longer. After their father’s death, Elena had kept treating the house as a vacation home, but then she divorced, and her daughter grew up, and what the daughter, Sofía, didn’t tell Elena was that she found it sad now, coming to Almería to “explore her Spanish roots” without her grandfather around. After she graduated high school, no one went to Almería for a while. Andrés often daydreamed about retiring there, but one evening, after a tedious parent-teacher conference (he taught high school Spanish), he had an epiphany, as he called it (Elena, when Andrés wasn’t around, called it a breakdown), and decided not to wait, to quit his job right there and then and move to this sunny place where a house was paid for, where he could live on his savings for a while.
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Episode 22: “Form and Formlessness”
In an essay specially commissioned for the podcast, Aisha Sabatini Sloan describes rambling around Paris with her father, Lester Sloan, a longtime staff photographer for Newsweek, and a glamorous woman who befriends them. In an excerpt from The Art of Fiction no. 246, Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti discuss how writing her first novel helped Cusk discover her “shape or identity or essence.” Next, Allan Gurganus’s reading of his story “It Had Wings,” about an arthritic woman who finds a fallen angel in her backyard, is interspersed with a version of the story rendered as a one-woman opera by the composer Bruce Saylor. The episode closes with “Dear Someone,” a poem by Deborah Landau.
Rachel Cusk photo courtesy the author.
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