Fiction Ignacio Padilla Antipodes: Stories

ISBN 13: 9780312424381

Antipodes: Stories

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9780312424381: Antipodes: Stories

These lively and eclectic narratives, by the author of Shadow Without a Name, move from the scorching heat of the Gobi desert to the glacial heights of Mount Everest: here, among others, are the stories of a Scottish engineer who builds an exact replica of the city of Edinburgh in the dunes; of a dying, cross-dressing pilot who allegedly climbs Mount Everest and then mysteriously disappears; and of a monk who conjures the devil to prove the devil's existence.
Based on history, legend, and an awe-inspiring power of invention, Antipodes delights, terrifies, and entrances.

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About the Author:

Ignacio Padilla was born in Mexico City and is the author of numerous award-winning novels and short-story collections. Shadow Without a Name was the first of his works to be translated into English.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

  The Antipodes and the Century For them, Edinburgh was not so much a name for somewhere else as a secret voice that invoked the blessed city that had been destined for them from the beginning of time. It also meant undergoing forty days and nights in the Ka-Shun Desert, lashing camels near to death. One after the other, men and animals would collapse exhausted on the dunes, gasping out a kind of prayer as they gave up the ghost—although no one could make out what language that wandering band had chosen to speak. All of a sudden, their eyes, dry now for so long from the wastes of stone and salt, filled once again with tears, in which Scotland’s capital gleamed for a moment, a palace preserved in amber. It was as if someone had intruded into their retinas an elephantine fortress of streets, bridges, and windows which, like alien eyes from another century, would watch their own eyes close in final peace in their tombs of sand. Only then could the survivors leave behind their dead with their minds at ease, certain that both conquerors and conquered would find themselves again in the city that waited for them behind the Great Wall, where they could slake the dry thirst of the journey, to the sound of the bagpipes they had fashioned out of yak bladders, using old instruments for pipes. Under the weight of so many deaths and such longings, little time remained to the wanderers to think of the days they had left behind. A faint remembrance of a delicate rooftop in Beijing, the feel of rice paddies on the knees, or the memory of an unsuspecting foreigner who, involved in preparations for his journey, had come over to ask of them where their caravan was headed. It amused them to recall how one of the guides, tight-lipped or timid, answered that question with a vague shrug, waving a hand toward the western peaks and muttering the arcane name of the city in such an unmistakable Scottish accent that the questioning foreigner was sure he had misheard. “Embruh,” repeated the guide with a vague priestly gesture, before leaving abruptly, as though the mere mention of that name had acted like a spur to his side. In reality, nobody had an exact idea in which meridian lay the city of such illusions. Not even the men who acted as caravan guides dared to go farther than a narrow pass on the horizon, a stony gash through which it was possible to make out a shimmering haze of towers that could well be a glassy mirage on the horizon. Those who went past the point disappeared once and for all, and if on some occasion even the guides let themselves be led astray by the travelers, there was no way of knowing in Beijing if the caravan had gone beyond the spur of stone, or if sun, thirst, and the tortures of sand had obliterated them on the journey, as we brush away a trail of insects. On such occasions, they had to discover all over again the traces of the city, decipher its location from the blind voices of opium smokers or in the imprecise maps made on feverish nights when a sated nomad let fall to a prostitute more than he should have. Sometimes, however, the dark weight of the secret or the intensity of those who held it could not prevent some loudmouth from waking up in the common stocks, silenced as a warning to any who were dreaming of an opportune moment to set off in search of Edinburgh. They say, too, that in Mongolia today ghostly stories circulate about a German Jesuit who in his letters to Rome spoke of the existence of a kind of global map in the very heart of the Gobi Desert, a vague though tangible diorama of the cosmos, its center a replica of the Scottish capital. But the voices tell also how that man, with his books and his visions, was gone before anyone had been able to understand what he said. All in all, for the men of the Gobi, their city was neither replica nor reflection of anywhere else: it was the home, real and unique, that a divine messenger had ordered them to build half a century ago, when for them the world was little more than an expanse of dunes, kept alive by two feeble and cretaceous rivers. They say, too, that in those days, far in the past by now, that divine messenger bore the name of Donald Campbell. He was the most distinguished member of the Geographical Society and had arrived in China too late to join the legendary expedition of Younghusband. Perhaps it was the vertigo of the desert or perhaps simply his sense of duty that drove Campbell to take to the desert alone, nursing the hope of one day catching up with the Briton who retraced the steps of Marco Polo. But Younghusband never managed to meet his Scottish follower, for Campbell had not traveled more than a hundred miles when he was set upon by a patrol of Tibetan guards and left half dead in the dunes in a mess of blood. Nobody knows for how long or how fiercely that man wished for some wind from Scotland while his skin and his brain were broiling under the sun. What is known is that, one fine afternoon, a tribe of Kirghiz nomads saved him from death, set his body astride a camel, and so led him to the beginning or the end of his unfortunate journey. Certainly it was then that the Scottish engineer lost the blessing of forgetting, to a point where time and the cosmos fused in his hallucinations. Suddenly everything became for him a plan in which realities, wishful and actual, alternated, and the shiftings of his disturbed memory neither could nor wanted to remain in the desert. In his sun-scorched mind, those who saved his life were not the Kirghiz but a battalion of grenadiers who had discovered his inert body in the sand, an army surgeon who had healed his wounds, and a naval vessel that had taken him and his men to his beloved Edinburgh. Initially, perhaps, the city in its details and the faces that greeted him in his family house in the Lawnmarket seemed hazy to him, as if the spires, their features, and even their speech were still contaminated by the unpleasant memories of China which kept troubling his feverish brain; or perhaps some morning his sickroom seemed to be covered with pelts, while the waves of the North Sea sparkled for him with a sandy light, which he put down to the effects of his sojourn in the Gobi Desert. Campbell, however, was not long in returning to his university chair in Old College, and if at times the faces of his students startled him with their slanted eyes, he was soon able to convince himself that things would eventually resume their proper course, and that the desert would stay in his remembering only in the form of those teasings of memory which would end up seeming trivial to him, however appealing. The Kirghiz, meanwhile, gave themselves over with great passion to deciphering the delirious voice of the prophet the desert had brought them. With the help of those who knew something of the world and its peoples on the other side of the Great Wall, the Kirghiz managed to transcribe his words one by one. With great care, they transferred them to wooden tablets, and they pored over them like scholars. Not until then did they dare to question Campbell, but only when they saw that he was distracted, wrapped in the all-embracing smile of those monks who seem never to wake from their dreaming. With some luck, after a few months, they were able to follow his instructions and carry out his wishes, in utter conviction that a blessed deity had chosen them to receive his designs from the Other Side. Later, when the divine messenger showed signs of a returning strength, they found for him a cedar board and pieces of black chalk, so that he might show them the shapes and measurements that previously in his tent he had traced in the air with the passion of a teacher lost in his fanciful lecture. So, little by little but inevitably, through a mixture of patience and devotion, they learned the exact height that Edinburgh Castle must attain, the precise length of the bridge that connects the High Street with Waverly Station, the correct calculations necessary to establish the perimeter of Canongate Cemetery, or the true distance between the two spires of St. Giles’ Cathedral. It was not many years before those drawings in the air began to take form among the rocks of the Gobi. The rumor that a divine voice was present in the desert drew a multitude of men and women who wished to dedicate their lives to building a vast sanctuary for a new religion, with a Templar-like liturgy in the form of measurements, azimuth lines, parabolas, and a whole host of topographical directions that the new inhabitants of Edinburgh had followed without thinking for various decades. Insatiable, devoted, they dug unceasingly in the sand; they shaped the rock as if it were just a question of helping the earth to become finally the place that had been taking shape deep within it for several centuries. Nothing drove them as much as the declining age of their prophet. Long had they waited for their moment of fulfillment, and in consequence their lives were filled with a cathedral-sized joy such as you find only in those races that have spent aeons in contemplating only the landscape. They were sure it would give them no trouble to learn later just how they should live and die in the city they were building. In time, in the same Canongate, they would burn three women heretics for their traffic in false dogma, they would drink malt beer from large ceramic mugs, and their children, heads full of elves and fairies, would end up detesting the English, although they dressed just like them and ended up speaking their language with a Caledonian cast; and they memorized the verses that Campbell, stirred by dreams of his students in Old College, would recite to them for evenings on end, gesticulating in the air with his left hand and putting into words the beginnings of the small universe that was taking shape for him in both stone and memory For forty years, Campbell had dispensed his knowledge in the halls of Architecture in Old College, fruitful years, no question, attached as he was to Edinburgh with the enthusiasm of someone who knows his words will not go wasted on the air, but will take on substance in the thousands of faces that passed before him in those years. Bit by bit, he gave up his Sunday habits and refused to be apart from his disciples, for he had discovered how much he loved them, how much he needed to speak with them, as a grounding for his mind, a distant mind that kept tricking him with nightmares and fantasies from the unfortunate wanderings of his youth in the deserts of China. Finally, his body worn out with crisscrossing in his mind the map of his beginnings, he announced one morning that this day would be the last of his life. Campbell appeared in the halls of Old College and told his students that he wished to say goodbye to the sea. Hundreds of hands bore him reverently to the top of Calton Hill, and from there the old architect wept for joy at the sight of the waves of the North Sea. Meanwhile, his beloved followers were watching in the far distance a mounting pinnacle of whirling sand, the prelude to the storm that would ultimately level the century, burying it under a vast sand dune, mountainous and mute. ANTIPODES. Copyright © 2001 by Ignacio Padilla. Translation copyright © 2004 by Alastair Reid. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address Picador, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

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Descripción Picador USA, United States, 2005. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.These lively and eclectic narratives, by the author of Shadow Without a Name, move from the scorching heat of the Gobi desert to the glacial heights of Mount Everest: here, among others, are the stories of a Scottish engineer who builds an exact replica of the city of Edinburgh in the dunes; of a dying, cross-dressing pilot who allegedly climbs Mount Everest and then mysteriously disappears; and of a monk who conjures the devil to prove the devil s existence. Based on history, legend, and an awe-inspiring power of invention, Antipodes delights, terrifies, and entrances. Nº de ref. de la librería APC9780312424381

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Descripción Picador USA, United States, 2005. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. These lively and eclectic narratives, by the author of Shadow Without a Name, move from the scorching heat of the Gobi desert to the glacial heights of Mount Everest: here, among others, are the stories of a Scottish engineer who builds an exact replica of the city of Edinburgh in the dunes; of a dying, cross-dressing pilot who allegedly climbs Mount Everest and then mysteriously disappears; and of a monk who conjures the devil to prove the devil s existence. Based on history, legend, and an awe-inspiring power of invention, Antipodes delights, terrifies, and entrances. Nº de ref. de la librería BZE9780312424381

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Descripción Picador. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Paperback. 144 pages. Dimensions: 8.0in. x 5.4in. x 0.5in.These lively and eclectic narratives, by the author of Shadow Without a Name, move from the scorching heat of the Gobi desert to the glacial heights of Mount Everest: here, among others, are the stories of a Scottish engineer who builds an exact replica of the city of Edinburgh in the dunes; of a dying, cross-dressing pilot who allegedly climbs Mount Everest and then mysteriously disappears; and of a monk who conjures the devil to prove the devils existence. Based on history, legend, and an awe-inspiring power of invention, Antipodes delights, terrifies, and entrances. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Nº de ref. de la librería 9780312424381

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