Minor Lits is delighted to feature an excerpt from the newest novel published by Galley Beggar Press, Gonzalo C. Garcia’s debut, ‘We Are The End’.
What could he write about? Google says he should write about THE WORLD AROUND HIM. He should write about people, his people, their everyday lives, the walks in the park, the way they look forward to retirement by acting retired, the parties, last night’s party, sleeping alone after said party, shaving for himself, getting into jogging because that will help at the next party, and then sharing mild party successes with a grin that says next time, next time it’ll be his turn, despite the overwhelming evidence that luck always favours those who do not believe in turns. He should write about birds falling out of trees, write about frozen forests, suffering in silence, his comrades, suffering in silence, Bimbo, silence, pink dolls, silence, the hole in the roof, dripping and then, silent, the priests, hell, hoping for silence, Eva, himself, silence… It’s useless, so useless, to try and write about the world around him when it keeps changing every night, the sky falling in snowflakes, the river of shit bursting its banks, almost out of the one place where it can flow ignored forever (and in silence). No one can write about that crap. Once, Tomás gave Eva a diary, her own IDEAS book, but she said writing her thoughts down made her uncomfortable. It made her realise she was never happy, that she was always far from who she thought she was. ‘Let me be,’ she said, giving the diary back to him, ‘just let me be without having to know it.’
She said writing her thoughts down made her uncomfortable. It made her realise she was never happy, that she was always far from who she thought she was
He gets up and closes Bimbo and goes on Amazon. He types in ‘Antarctic equipment’, but only books and documentaries show up: Notes from a Cold Climate: Antarctic Symphony, Under Antarctic Ice: Photographs from the Depths, Frozen Planet: Full DVD Series. They all sound like verses from a mediocre poem, but that’s because no one really goes there unless they’re dressed up like astronauts, and so they use words that could describe other planets. Tomás could go to that planet. He knows it’s fucking crazy but he wants her to know it too. Although right now he needs to start working, and so he orders the Frozen Planet box set and opens his IDEAS book on the last page.
Eva gave him his IDEAS book on the wrong day. She had baked a cake, even made the candles, God knows how. But his birthday wasn’t on that day. He hadn’t remembered to tell her the truth after they met, when, as a joke, he said his birthday was the week after. It had been months away, and when no one called him, or gave him a card or some other stupid gesture people only do at birthdays, she made a big deal about it. She cooked some French cake that tasted like Chilean cake, and gave him a Moleskine pad wrapped in Elle pages with a tasteful photograph of a rusty tin of flowers and an anaemic model looking over the Paris skyline. She said it was the most important thing she’d ever give him, that she couldn’t wait to see what he’d write, because that notebook is what writers and creative people use in Europe, where the best people write in the best way. It said so on the belly band. On the front page she wrote, ‘So you can write about us’. When his family appeared at the door to take him out to dinner on his real birthday (which they didn’t mention straight away), they asked what Eva had given him.
‘We have guests,’ Eva said to Angela, ‘we were planning on going to an expat bar with my French class,’ she said, and asked Tomás if he also thought that it was rude for them to all just appear uninvited. He agreed, but they wouldn’t go. They just came in and sat down, the way cats do when you open any door ever.
Later, when the cake came out at the restaurant, and the waiters dimmed the lights, and the fucking mariachi came up with a guitar the size of a basketball player, and then strummed and hit it at the neck with the beat, Eva just stared at him through the flickering candles. She took the first slice of cake, which now tasted French or just foreign, because his sister had picked it and it was made of straw or bits of carpet or some other vegan shit. And his parents asked, again, as if it fucking mattered to them, what Eva had bought for him. She said she had given it to him already, to which the mariachi laughed and his dad laughed, and some waiters whistled and even tried high-fiving Tomás, because when fuckable people talk about fucking, everyone loses it. And it was just a notebook, but Tomás couldn’t say it because he was already high-fiving a mariachi who had turned red with excitement. Eva stood up and left. His dad sighed and said something about women with attitudes being better than boring ones, and his mother asked if she was OK, and his sister looked at the straw cake, more than half of it still left, and she said ‘Namaste bitch,’ as Eva walked away, ‘Namaste. You could at least have said thanks,’ and…
When fuckable people talk about fucking, everyone loses it
He needs to work. WORK goddamn it. He needs to write about THE WORLD AROUND HIM and… Before he does anything though, he Youtubes Radiohead’s ‘Let Down’, which Yiyo and himself used to play in high school breaks, when they took their guitars so that people would know that they played guitar. This was the song they claimed inspired them the most, whatever that means. The guitars start out at a distance, layers intruding on other layers, getting louder and louder, as if Thom Yorke himself was walking around your house, and then the beat comes in and the mess is a riff, a loop, and when the beat comes in now, Tomás looks out the window where the crowds of Blue Peace activists are gathering with their banners and pamphlets about global warming because, like him, they’re inspired by deadlines. Even they can look beautiful in a song, coordinated, all together marching in light steps, almost in slow motion, the angrier they are the better, and Hysterically useless, hysterical, Let down and hanging around, he writes at the top of the page, underlines it, and begins a new paragraph.
There’s a plane and it’s flying over the ocean. He has a limited supply of fuel and the objective is to reach a white island. The player has to choose whether to use the fuel to go as high as possible and then glide, or just fly straight on and… But why? What’s on the island? And is it really a choice? If you were faced with this dilemma, wouldn’t you fly as high as possible just to delay the fall? Wouldn’t you wish to then pass out before touching water? And how would Bimbo fit all of this? It’s useless. He turns off Thom Yorke, and all the Blue Peace anger is just anger, and the fake snowy peaks are just painted cardboard, and THE WORLD AROUND HIM is another smog-filled day in Santiago, another day at the office, another hour to pass before another night at the apartment. He lies under the desk again and checks his phone.
GONZALO C. GARCIA was born in Chile and spent his first years in the small town of San Fernando in Chile’s Colchagua Valley region, before moving to Switzerland and eventually to the University of Kent, where he studied for a PhD. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of Warwick.
To buy ‘We Are The End’, or for more information about it, visit the great Galley Beggar Press (@galleybeggars)