Porto, June

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From my balcony, the enigmatic, silent, meditative movements of a crane, high above a building site a few blocks away; like Christ in Majesty

THE PLAGUE-YEARS

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I posted this on my publisher’s website a little over seven years ago. The pestilence has been far more deadly than I ever imagined. I spent the last days of the summer as a writer in residence at La Torre de Dalt, in Catalunya; a beautiful medieval building, a little palace of marble floors, elaborate dark mirrors and vaulted ceilings, …

An extract from The Ghostwriter’s Notebook

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Dubinsky’s front door opened and a girl came out, turning to say something to the doorman before trotting down the steps. I saw her the other day, leaving the house as I was going in: pale, red hair. Andy called out to her. “Sally! Come and say hello sweetheart!” “Sally Dunbar,” she said, holding her hand out. “You must be …

Os Capitães de Abril

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The Captains had paid their dues for years in Africa. They had acquired the skills they needed to change the world – to rebuild it closer to the heart’s desire – at great personal expense, at the cost of many deaths, of many friends, in a pointless war.

MATTHEW 8 . 28

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28  And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29  And, behold, they cried out, saying, art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 30  And there was …

More from the Notebook

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At Walthamstow Central a red balloon is blowing and bobbing along the electric rails, trailing a ribbon, driven on the hot wind of the underground, disappearing into the tunnel at the end of the station. The wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London. In Hyde Park Court the white mansions are turned around, backs to the road, the grand …

From The Ghostwriter’s Notebook

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While I was writing “Waking Nightmares” I got interested in the Russian writer Varlam Shalamov, perhaps the greatest artist to have survived the Gulag, if ‘survive’ is the right word. Sadly, he got cut down to a couple of footnotes in the end; maybe I’ll come back to him one day. I read him in translation, of course, but his …

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London, July 16th

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To London: “spread out in the sun, It’s postal districts packed like squares of wheat.” “London was gritty with stale heat and swept with the whoop and shriek of police sirens, patrol cars racing down the Edgware Road. There was a message on the answer-phone in his flat, a wrong number; an old man’s voice, speaking in a papery vibrato: I …