I hate the man who stood back to back with me for the hour-long journey from Düsseldorf to Cologne. I didn’t see his face or his hands; I just felt his shoulder-blades and sometimes his elbows, when he explained something particularly keenly to his companion. He talked for the whole hour. His voice was quite impersonal–I would hardly recognize it again–and yet I hate him. I don’t wish him dead, but I would like to see him spend the next two hundred years listening only to his own voice, a gramophone recording of his own words, the ones he spoke from Dusseldorf to Cologne. First it was currency reform, and from there it was German efficiency, which has been suppressed because there was no currency reform. But it couldn’t be suppressed. No, nothing could suppress German efficiency and German workmanship. And German science and German soldiers. And the German armed forces and German confidence. And German toilet-seats. Nothing in the world could suppress all of that.
Longreads for the Lockdown
Doctors, solitude and the stones within us – for fiction about isolation, it has to be Haruki Murakami. Translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin.
Plague Diary: March
‘Things have changed without seeking permission.’ A plague diary of this March, by Gonçalo M. Tavares, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn.
‘Our view of the morning’s entertainment was restricted by the width of the door frame.’ Bruce Chatwin writes about his imprisonment during a coup in Benin.
The Leech Barometer
‘A leech bodes this: you will, sooner or later, overflow yourself. ’ Rebecca Giggs on leeches and the borders of the human body.
The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror
‘Her eyes fluttered open and I felt like I was at the edge of the mouth of a cave, with every intention of jumping in.’ For pure escapism, lose yourself in the nineteenth-century Paris of Carmen Maria Machado.