A View From Ramona Claret

Montserrat Roig; Meg Berkobien; María Cristina Hall ::

Do you want me to tell you how it ends? Look, let’s leave it at that, I feel sorry for you, I worry about you, you know? We’re so alike. I see myself in you, the things you do, in your words, your gestures. I explain away all that your skin lays bare, holding nothing back. You’d make a great character in a novel: contradictory, snobbish, ambiguous. You, like me, are the residue of a world that hasn’t yet fully decayed. But you’re less vitriolic: your class and station are more “real.” That’s what they led us to believe: we’re the beautiful ones, the young ones, the intelligent ones. That the world’s within our reach. We can choose our own futures. And we don’t realize that we’re just miserable puppets, though exquisite and refined in our making. Only good for our beauty. And your family — full of unimaginative Madame Bovarys, anguished Pilar Prims, downhome Regentas — is a first-rate literary arsenal. A neat, tidy, polished family. And with such a pristine past. With all the transparency of model postwar living. All intent on hiding your filthiness, your passions. Wrapping your sadism up in civility and propriety. And how furious Mundeta would get when he said those kinds of things. She would have clawed him, hurt him if she could have, when he acted superior to her, like a man who knows he’s wasting time on a fool from Eixample, as he’d say. A fool who was ready, despite her liberal friends, to accept the world as it was, as those in her station had first revealed it to her. Good thing you’ve got me around, he kept telling her. Mundeta would’ve liked to figure out why the love she felt for Jordi was something like resentment and admiration all wrapped up in one. He, who enjoyed bashing her with words, was one of those guys at university who was well practiced, with a certain cleverness and obstinacy, in the art of verbal cruelty. But beneath that stream of harsh, contemptuous, cutting words, Jordi hid — out of insecurity or timidness — the unshakeable pleasure of struggle. And who knew if his verbal cruelty was just a front to shelter himself from other more primitive, chilling instincts. Mundeta didn’t think there was a single person who didn’t engage in verbal cruelty at the university. Everyone accused everyone else of what just ended up making the accuser feel worse — of repression, of the silence of unattached sex.

Read the full excerpt here.

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