Well, I was supposed to be in Paris for a short stay, and I really wasn’t trying to meet anyone. The company was considering cooperating with our French competitors, and I was the only one in the office who’d studied even basic French. It was my first chance to lead a project – and the French agreed – so I went. We never really set a timeline. And, I know it sounds crazy, but I think that’s partly why I ended up in an emergency room.
On the morning of October 31 – exactly one and thirteen days since teaching Borges's "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" and exactly one and thirteen years since reading Don Quixote himself – David woke up and had a thought: that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza were, in fact, the same person. . .
It was a miserable April in Paris. The temperature hovered just above freezing and there was a constant threat of rain. I'd flown from Boston for an academic conference asking scholars to present "notions of proliferation" in "historical pragmatics." Someone on the organizing committee had read my article on "tragic foresight" in Harold Laski's Liberty in the Modern State and invited me to speak. . .
From the moment I suspected my ex-boyfriend had left me pregnant I began to fear childbirth. Not for myself — for the baby. How could I allow it to undergo such trauma? From its warm, dark, insulated womb it would have to squeeze through a passage that was obviously too small for its body into this horrible unprotected world with all its bacteria and coldness and blinding light. . .
In the far distant future there was a zoological forest-park where ancient species of humans were kept in artificially natural habitats. They’d been forced to live this way for generations and their will had been broken to the degree that they didn’t really know or remember anything else. Among these humans a small group had begun to retaliate by trying to achieve the ultimate act of resistance: suicide. . .
The reading room of the Soviet Jewry Library had been converted into a makeshift presentation hall. It was lined on either side with tall metal shelves buckling under the weight of an ungainly amassment of old newspapers. A reading table had been jammed long-ways at the front end of the cramped room with chairs facing it in three rows of four. On it were several copies of the book Sherman had helped Boris edit. . .
When I think of how my name—which happens to be Schneier Scheinhorn—came to me, I can never sustain a single sentiment: I am glad to have a specific designation of my own, and yet I resent its non-uniqueness, its tie to preexisting nomenclature: to all the Schneiers I may never know, and all the Scheinhorns that I know to well. . .
It was some forty-five years ago, just as my parents disappeared, that the Scheinhorn family sent me a correspondence by mail, a postcard informing me of the family's arrangement for me of the row house where I now live, inviting me to relocate here by a certain date, as the new owners of the home I was then inhabiting would be moving in shortly. . .
When Grisha Mindevich, a young man of twenty-two years, had come to New York from St. Petersburg in March of 1904 fleeing either the Czarist government or the numerous rebel groups that planned to overthrow it (he was never sure which one he was really trying to get away from), he was struck by one thing more than anything: its modernity.
I was living in a state of what some people, what I myself, call a state of home-deficiency. That meant that, at night, instead of lying on a second hand bed, on a second hand mattress, trying for half an hour to find a position that wasn’t painful, a position where the spring coils didn’t jab me in the thigh—instead of sleeping in a room disconnected from the truth outside, I had the entire city as sleeping ground.
© Copyright David Stromberg