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.