What I Have Written
John A Scott
"'He told me this much...that he's met a woman in Paris and that they'd been writing to each other. That their letters had become increasingly erotic.'
"A man who can no longer talk to his wife. His brief encounter with another woman. The beginnings of a possible affair in letters. Letters which might be turned into a novel, or a confession. There are the facts.
"But the facts begin to shift. Fiction and reality become indistinguisable in one person's search for truth and another's realisation of desire. What I Have Written is a novel of sexual obsession, a literary puzzle in which what is written is far from what it seems."
Thursday, May 10. The day of Sainte Solange. We have brought our illness to this town of the ill. To this place of the aged and the dying. Châtel-Guyon. Its central park, the streets that curve downwards to it - dark rivers to their lake - flanked with elaborate hotels. These edifices, white, ornate, with their staunch bourgeois facades: Hôtel Bellevue, Hôtel Splendide, Hôtel Grande ... From another place, Belvedere, Ritz. American, this town of hotels.
Bleak foyer: an extrusion of light, glim, the colour of vegetable stock.
'One night?' the girl is asking in English - even though our conversation has to this point taken place in French - turning the large white pages of the register. It is usual to stay for one of the prescribed periods. She is shaking her head. We are clearly here by mistake if we wish just the single night. I smile: ours is, of course, a more subtle malady.
I watch her hand move down the columns of names and dates. The skin has a darkness typical of the Auvergne. Her wrists are thick, the cuffs of her white blouse pulled tight. I see where the material has creased, the lines converging at the button in rills.
From the McPhee Gribble paperback edition, 1993.
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