Friday 17 June 2011

Elena Bossi — en amor con vide

Elena was the convivial hub of our 30-spoked wheel in Iowa (International Writers Programme 2007) and in the photo below is checking up on one of our number in Istanbul last month (no, not the dude on the plinth).

As Elena and I sat one evening in her Iowa room with our feet on the windowsill, she announced that we must make a 'proyect' together for the sake of our friendship which would otherwise founder in the gaps of our communication; my Spanish is threadbare, her English 'pintoresco'. So we began that year to write a novel together, bilingually. That involved a trip for me to Argentina, gracias a Creative NZ, where we shared a work table, our translations, travel, and much hilarity. One day out walking, Elena swooped on a pile of vile-looking fungi, telling me they were as precious as truffles. The resulting jellyfish risotto had something of the flavour we were after, but E conceded that we might have overdone the quantity and that drying them first would have improved the texture.

Con hongos de pino. You know, the ones that grow under pines.

Anyway, to the point: Elena is a fine writer: playwright, essayist, literary critic, and novelist, whose grasp of 'the canon', literary and filmic, is extraordinary.  She was forever saying things like, 'You know the scene in Faust where … ' or, 'Remember the girl in the Salinger story who says, "I love squalid things?"' I could only roll my eyes and blush.

In Elena's Slightly Peculiar Short Story, a man watches a window washer and yearns.

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