The Shining Path

28Sep07

A snippet from Onetti’s The Shipyard:

Galvez was still smiling, head tilted back. Larsen spat out his cigarette, and the three of them sat staring out into the black winter’s night, at the path reflected like silver filings, at the persistence of the scattered stars calling out to be named.

Larsen, the shipyard’s manager, has been drinking with Galvez and Kunz, the only other employees. Galvez has just stated that he can have Petrus, the yard’s owner, sent to prison whenever he chooses.

This is a novel full of glinting gun-metal passages like this – Larsen, a giant of a character, who fills your mind from the instant you meet him, at one point returns a gun to his shoulder-holster “sadly, as if afraid of cutting himself on it”. Onetti’s prose is like that, too.

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