The Weather in Catalan

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PERMAFROST
by Eva Baltasar
Translated by Julia Sanches
And Other Stories. 128 pages. $15.95

 

REFERENCES to extreme weather appear often in this era of climate change, even in the most unlikely contexts. Eva Baltasar’s Permafrost combines the personal with the universal, and the images of permanent ice and other transparent substances operate on several levels. In the first scene, the unnamed narrator muses: “It’s nice, up here. That’s the thing about heights: a hundred meters of vertical glass. The air is air at a higher degree of purity and so also seems harder, at times almost solid.” After describing the view from atop a high building, she says: “Right now, I am and am not.” The reader is jolted by the realization that she is considering a deliberate jump to her death. The nameless, youngish woman considers suicide several times in the narrative.

            The narrator’s reasons for seeking ways to end her life emerge gradually from a series of loosely connected chapters. While attending university in Barcelona and subletting her aunt’s apartment, the narrator discovers the Internet, which gives her “unforeseen access to lesbians.” Her affairs seem colorful, satisfying, and sometimes hilarious, especially when she travels to other European cities, and meets willing women wherever she goes. However, she says: “I couldn’t seem to fall in love.”

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