Excerpt: The Dream of My Return by Horacio Castellanos Moya

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Image courtesy of New Directions.

Horacio Castellanos Moya is a Salvadoran fiction novelist and journalist. He was a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum/Pittsburgh from 2006-2008, and he has published ten novels, five short story collections, and two books of essays. His writing has received much international praise, and in 2014 he was awarded the Manuel Rojas Iberoamerican Prize for Fiction by the Chilean Ministry of Culture. Here is an excerpt from the 2015 English translation of his novel, The Dream of My Return.


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I THOUGHT ABOUT IT INCESSANTLY, I told myself that it was ridiculous, the events were too fresh, too recent, I wouldn’t be able to avoid opening my big trap while I was there, on that table, hypnotized and at the mercy of Don Chente’s questions, which is why I should call him the day before and tell him any lie whatsoever to get out of showing up at his apartment, that’s what I thought, but Tuesday night came and I still hadn’t summoned the courage to call him, as if I were paralyzed and without any willpower of my own, truly bewildered in the wake of the events that had swallowed up both my weekend and my sense of sanity; I had the impression that the fact that I’d been hypnotized was somehow connected to my outrageous behavior, as if the session with Don Chente, the contents of which I didn’t remember, had expanded the shadowy realms inside me, realms I hadn’t known even existed. That’s why, on Wednesday afternoon, my inertia unchecked and in a vulnerable and defenseless state of mind, I arrived punctually at Don Chente’s apartment, resigned to the possibility that I would tell him things because time only makes bad get worse, as I realized on that occasion when I exploded, went berserk, shouted at her that my role in life wasn’t to take calls from an imbecile who didn’t even have the courage to speak to me, that she was an inveterate liar and had most likely just come from having her pussy pummeled by that two-bit actor, and if she got pregnant again she shouldn’t even think of telling me. To my surprise, however, instead of breaking down in tears or becoming hysterical, Eva told me in a consummately detached tone of voice that I should stop acting like a moron, she had not seen Antolín again, but he had taken it into his head to pursue her by telephone, at the office and at home, and she was as put out by it as I was, because that two-bit actor’s pursuit of her was affecting her at work; the guy seemed impervious to reason, determined to prove to her that he was suffering because he loved her and was desperate to see her alone, even if it was only one last time, that’s how truly screwed up the poor guy was. And it became evident that only the devil himself knows the pathways taken by our self-esteem: instead of feeling pity for the scorned Romeo, I was flooded with hatred and a yearning for vengeance, feelings that were in all respects irrational if what I supposedly wanted was to be rid of Eva, to let her live her own life without interfering in mine, in separate countries and with Evita as the only bond between us; but instead of listening to common sense, which was telling me that she had to clean up her own mess, I started spewing out death threats at the two-bit actor and demanding that Eva give me all and any information she had about my future victim, which she refused to do, obviously, seeing me in such a state of bestiality, she said, a refusal that managed to rile me up even more, until I stomped out of the house, shouting insults and slamming the door behind me. A few hours later I was at La Veiga drinking vodka tonics compulsively, like a fiend, and telling my old and trusted friend, Mr. Rabbit, about Eva’s betrayal and how that two-bit actor was pursuing her. “Let’s break the sonofabitch’s neck,” Mr. Rabbit said in a flat voice and without flinching, in that style so typical of him, and he said it as if he could read my thoughts, because the only thing I wanted to do was break that obnoxious Romeo’s neck, for even though I’d never killed anybody and lacked the necessary experience to carry out such an act, at that moment I felt elated at the prospect of killing the man who had cuckolded me, my elation increasing by leaps and bounds as Mr. Rabbit displayed so much indignation and willingness to be my accomplice in the execution of Eva’s ex-lover; and we aren’t talking here about any old accomplice but rather a man who, during his long tenure as a militant revolutionary, had liquidated a number of subjects, and who therefore knew how to pull the trigger without his hand shaking. I immediately gave him all the information I had on the subject and proposed a plan that we set in motion the following day, a plan Mr. Rabbit approved of with keen resolve.

Excerpted from The Dream of My Return by Horacio Castellanos Moya, translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver. Available from New Directions. Copyright © 2015.

About the Author

Horacio Castellanos Moya is the senior contributor to Sampsonia Way. A novelist and emeritus writer-in-residence at the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. Born in Honduras in 1957, he grew up in El Salvador. He has lived in Guatemala, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico (where he spent twelve years as a journalist, editor, and political analyst), Spain, and Germany. In 1988 he won the National Novel Prize from Central American University for his first novel. His work has been translated into five languages. He has published eight novels. The English translation of his novel Senselessness was published in June 2008 by New Directions. He was the second exiled writer-in-residence at City of Asylum/Pittsburgh and has resided there since 2006.

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