For what is more romantic than molecules?
First published in Italian in Ti Con Zero, Guilio Einaudi, 1967, and in English in Time and the Hunter, Cape, 1970. Also available in The Complete Cosmicomics, Penguin Modern Classics, 2009. Available to read online here
Federico, who lives in the north of Italy, makes occasional long-distance train journeys to visit his lover Cinzia, who lives in Rome. He travels by night as it’s cheaper, and he is almost always guaranteed an entire compartment to himself. Each time, he undresses carefully and allows himself the pleasure of the enclosed space and precisely-allotted timespan to anticipate his arrival in Rome. But this night, his solitude is interrupted.
First published in English in Difficult Loves, 1983
“Well, then, excuse my curiosity,” the one with the freckled voice asked, “but who lives here?”
A primer in how to be short, how to get away with ‘freckled voices’, how to let an ending howl beyond a page.
Read in Vintage’s 1996 Numbers in the Dark: And Other Stories translated by Tim Parks. Available to read here