“Skyscrapers”
by Alejandro Zambra
translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell
from the August 22, 2022 issue of The New Yorker

It’s been some years since I last read anything by Alejandro Zambra, but I have liked everything I’ve read so far. His work is often interested in narrative structure, and it appears this one goes there too. I like how the first little section gets us involved in the narrative immediately, even though we don’t know what’s going on.

I didn’t go to New York, because I didn’t want to cut my hair. And my father didn’t read my “Letter to My Father.”

“I’ll read it next time I feel like crying,” he told me. “Except I never feel like crying.”

I didn’t know how to respond. I never knew how to respond. That was why I wrote; that’s why I write. I write the replies I don’t think of at the time. Or drafts of those replies, really.

The first time I tried to write this story, for example, I erased you. I thought it would be possible to conceal your absence, as if you simply hadn’t shown up for that day’s performance and we, the other actors, had to improvise at the last minute.

Only now do I realize that this story started with you, because, although I might prefer to somehow avoid acknowledging it, this is, above all and in every sense, a love story.

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