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This report is taken from PN Review 245, Volume 45 Number 3, January - February 2019.

Letter from Cadiz James Womack
Half of the restaurant sticks out over the sea: a suspended dining-room with aluminium tables and paper tablecloths and driftwood floorboards flecked and grating with sand. The other diners sit outside on the beach itself, the legs of their chairs in the bright sullen water. Clumps of seaweed and mixed detritus shredding and shifting in the semi-dormant waves. You lean out and look into the weeds and catch the truth of that poem you quite like: Jorie Graham, the one where ‘the minnows, thousands, swirl / themselves, each a minuscule muscle’.

It is dirty, a haphazard careless dirtiness that is not unpleasant, but is simply the result of living in a world of sand and salt, where freshness is a myth and humidity levels hang around eighty percent twelve months of the year. Your clothes feel damp even before you put them on; paperbacks decide to imitate the surrounding Atlantic and twist themselves into waves that after a few days slump saturated back into flatness.

You are here to eat. You eat aliens: deep-fried sea anemones that are sacs of salted jelly; clams that have swung open like Bibles. You tear off and suck the heads of gambas rojas, enjoying the salty brain. Your son throws breadsticks to the fish. You eat cazón, dogfish. The serving plates are passed round until they are empty. You eat chips and fried green peppers, and drink beer from frozen glasses.

Today you don’t really talk to your wife’s family, Óscar and his girlfriend, but when ...


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