Twenty After Midnight: A Novel by Daniel Galera
English | 2020| General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 2.1 MB
A dark and masterful portrait of a generation in crisis, from one of the most exciting young voices in international literature
The world had been theirs in the late 90s: they were the young provocateurs behind a countercultural scene, digital bohemians creating a new future. But fifteen years later, Duke, the leader and undisputed genius of their group, has been murdered, and the three remaining members of their circle reunite to piece together what became of their lives and how they fell so short of their expectations.
Now in their thirties, Aurora, Antero, and Emiliano have succumbed to the pressures of adulthood, the exigencies of carving out a life in a country that is fraying at the seams. Reunited after years of long-held grudges and painful crushes, the three try to resurrect the spirit of the all-night parties and early morning trysts, the protests and pornography of their youths. Lurking over them, as they puzzle out their fates, is the question of whether or not there is a future for them to believe in, or if the end has already arrived.
I relaxed my fingers, swallowed the last ice cube, and set down the glass on the coffee table. I needed to do something to escape this vortex of anxiety. I recalled my favorite way of passing the time in that house, the habit I had acquired as a child of riffling through my mom’s illustrated books, among them the volumes on zoology, botany, and anatomy that had fascinated me ever since I was a little girl. I left through the kitchen’s back door. The heat outside, even in the seconds it took me to cross the patio to the cottage, was so punishing that I wondered if those conditions might not be hostile to human life. Human fragility really was endearing. Millions of years of evolution that culminated in living beings astonishingly maladapted to the planet’s natural environment, as evidenced by our continual suffering at the slightest change in temperature or lack of resources, by our humiliating vulnerability to any kind of atmospheric condition or our exposure to materials and other organisms—not to mention our minds’ even more humiliating vulnerability to any old rubbish, to anxiety and hope. We weren’t suited to that natural world. It was no surprise we were trying to destroy it.
Fortunately, my mom was working in her studio, the AC on full-blast and the radio tuned as ever to Rádio Itapema, which just then played a Nei Lisboa ballad that, for some reason, took me back to afternoons of drinking with my classmates at bars on Rua Doutor Flores, in the Old Town, after our college prep classes. Her desk was long and bare, with no drawers, just a wooden slab that rested on round metal legs. Her iMac, scanner, and digital drawing tablet were like alien technologies next to her FM radio with its extended antenna. These devices sat beside sheets of paper covered in sketches and various pencil holders filled with pens. She’d been drawing on her computer for years, but I still remembered the pre-digital days, her table always laden with sheets of heavyweight paper in creamy textures, with cases of colored pencils, rulers, styluses, watercolors, and paintbrushes. When I was still a tyke, she’d give me sheets of tracing paper so I could copy book illustrations with 0.5mm archival ink pens. I was terrified of breaking the tips of those pens. Mom specialized in technical and what she referred to as realistic illustrations. With delicate wrist flourishes, she drew hearts and throats for medical textbooks, bowls of milky cereal surrounded by ripe strawberries for boxes of granola, Amazonian birds for trading cards—free gifts tucked into milk chocolate wrappers—and tractors and combine harvesters for agricultural machinery catalogs. All she needed were reference photos. Once, before being driven to school, I had seen one of her illustrations on a bread wrapper at breakfast and asked why they didn’t just use photographs instead of drawings so realistic they sometimes seemed like mere copies.