The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Aug 28, 2011

Fruits of Angels

Eugenio Fuentes is a writer of slow-burning fiction peopled with characters limned with a tender sympathy. The most tragic of them have a dignity that shines through the vicissitudes of their fortunes. In The Blood of Angels, these qualities are visible in ample quantities. There is not much food, not really. But then there comes a passage such as the following that is so, so moving.
He went into the house and, without once looking into the living room, at the pictures on the fireplace and everything he left behind, went down the stairs into the cellar. The fruit he'd picked over the last month hung from the roof beams: melons from a reed-rope, strings of beans, garlic, grapes, peppers, chilli and laurel. On the floor, heaped on a tarpaulin were figs, apples, potatoes and quinces. The mixture of scents coming from the different ripening fruits created an intense, sickly-sweet smell in the cellar.
Before, when all the members of the household had lived and were hungry, they picked many of the fruits hanging on the trees, shiny without artificial help, plump like coloured light bulbs - the whole farm lit up by the glow of pears, peaches, cherries and apples. Those reserves of food lasted until Christmas. Yet in the last couple of years, although the crops had dwindled and they kept little for themselves, they ended up throwing a good part of it away, uneaten by them and their younger son. Dried fruit became impossibly hard to swallow; it felt like the pears and quinces had turned sour, grapes left a smoky taste in their mouths and cherries left their mouths full of stones. When his elder son had lived that never happened; when he had lived the harvest never seemed sufficient. Before he'd started to die he would come home full of energy, always hungry, and if dinner was late, he would go down to the cellar and take whatever fruit he liked. But in the last couple of years such a big store made no sense.
Very slowly, almost fondly, he tied the slipknot and made sure it slipped properly before slinging it over one of the roof beams.


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