Almost every day, the narrator visits M.L., a close friend who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s. Based on these encounters and M.L.’s fragments of memory, she constructs a powerfully moving tale about the breakdown of a mind that progressively erases everything in a very peculiar way.
An attempt through writing to “make a relationship endure despite the ruin, to hold up even if only a few words remain.” “How does someone who can’t remember say ‘I’?” asks the narrator, considering this woman who shows her around the house as if she were visiting for the first time, or who is unable to say she feels dizzy, yet is perfectly capable of translating into English a message saying that she feels dizzy.
Passages from a shared past and present that are transformed into fiction when faced with a forgetting that can no longer refute them. A book that opposes disintegration with a precise and vital prose and the unique sensibility of one of Latin America’s greatest storytellers.
Dislocations by Sylvia Molloy, translated by Jennifer Croft, will be published by Charco Press in October 2022.
Like rhetoric, the faculty for translation does not get lost, at least not until the very end. This I confirmed once more today as I spoke with L. I asked her if the doctor had been informed that M.L. had had a dizzy spell, and she told me he had. Out of curiosity, I asked her how she had conveyed this information, given that L. doesn’t speak English. M.L. interpreted for me, she said. Which means that while M.L. is incapable of saying that she has had a dizzy spell, that is, incapable of remembering the state of being dizzy, she is capable all the same of translating into English L.’s message that she, M.L., has had a dizzy spell. It is a way of accessing a momentary identity, a momentary existence, by means of that efficiently transmitted (transmuted) speech. For a second, in that translation, M.L. is there.