SO LONG: Ernesto Sabato

Ernesto Sabato died on Saturday. He was 90.

Sabato was also born on a Saturday, and his last name comes from the Italian word for Saturday.

Back in college I memorized the opening lines of his novel El Túnel.

Bastará decir que soy Juan Pablo Castel, el pintor que mató a María Iribarne; supongo que el proceso está en el recuerdo de todos y que no se necesitan mayores explicaciones sobre mi persona.

I fixated on that line partly because it sounds wonderful: the boastful, open vowels of “Bastará” and “soy Juan Pablo Castel” contrasting with the clipped, anxious Is and Ts of “pintor que mató a María Iribarne.” (I was taking a South American literature class with a lot of native speakers, and I needed to practice reading the language closely.) It’s also a damn fine way to start a novel. The flatness of the delivery and the gravity of the confession introduce you to a murderer who is casually, cavalierly disinterested in his own fate. Just reciting it makes me want to re-read the whole story.

Here’s the news.


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