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This article is taken from PN Review 248, Volume 45 Number 6, July - August 2019.

We Defy Augury translated by Beverley Bie Brahic
Chapter 7
Translated from the French by Beverley Bie Brahic (Paris: Editions Galilée, 2018)
Hélène Cixoux
You never know who to expect

My books are nautical self-constructions, I tell my daughter; free in their movements and in their choice of routes, they can take to the air or water, founder, fly, be composed of several stories, of jokes, of eye-witness accounts, true or false. They are enriched with alluvial deposits from all the worlds, deposited in this or that chapter. A gracious contribution from the gods. They are the product of many makers, dreamed, dictated, cobbled together, augmented with fantasies, whence the plurality of their birthplaces. If, to take notes on the voyage, I am at anchor in my Aquitaine study, my spirits come and go among the Cities and times that inhabit the different floors of my mental library.


The readiness is all. Whatever the hour, the page, the rule of hospitality is what directs the Book. You never know who to expect, I tell my daughter. What the weather is like. How old you are. For which country you have a ticket. With whom you are about to quarrel. Today I encountered an ancient tortoise I hadn’t seen since Algiers. She went away. Her going left me with a small ache of fatality. That she should depart was written. In spite of myself I was forced to love her. Because she loves music. Because the tortoise folk were in the garden a long time before the human colonisation. Because you’ll never hear her sob and wail.

Must the Book adopt her? – Did she leave a long time ago? ...


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