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A small book about books.Following the death of a fellow Cambridge lecturer, run over while engrossed in a volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems, Domínguez’s narrator receives a copy of a Conrad novel sent to the dead woman, Bluma, that bears traces of having been encased in cement. The book contains a dedication written by her to a certain Carlos, thanking him for a “crazy” weekend in Mexico. Argentinian by birth, our narrator decides to try and find this man, a Uruguayan, when he next returns home.
Domínguez’s brief novel is a Borgesian book about books, exploring the almost supernatural hold they exert over true bibliophiles. His haunting tale of obsession teems with observations that will chime with anyone whose books demand more space than is entirely sensible. “In the end,” he writes, “the size of a library does matter. We lay the books out for inspection like a huge exposed brain, offering miserable excuses and feigned modesty.” Domínguez’s book might be small, but he certainly knows what to do with it.
The Paper House by Carlos María Domínguez, out now published by Harvill Secker.
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