The Painting and the City is off to the printer, so I thought I’d post on its origins.
The first particle of what became the novel occurred April 22, 2001 (although I wrote 2002 in my notebook, which confused me a lot when I went back to find the entry—from the very beginning, I was warping time…).
I had an image of two friends, one showing the other his new painting.
I was in Israel to attend my nephew’s bar mitzvah. My suitcase was missing and I had to wear my brother-in-law’s clothes. I was reading Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo. This proto-idea came out with a Latin American setting and characters, likely due to my being in a foreign country, wearing someone else’s clothes, reading a book by a Polish writer that was written in English and set in South America.
Hernandez called Saturday morning to tell him of a new painting. “I didn’t want you to see it, Gerardo. I know you’ll love it as I do.” Hernandez possessed great pride over his artistic and gastronomic tastes. They agreed to meet on the plaza for coffee first.
Gerardo had known Hernandez since college…
A couple of days later I made this list:
– visits friend to see painting again, and again
– party, looks at painting with others
– woman at party, friend starts seeing woman
– woman doesn’t like painting
And there it lay for many months, until I began unearthing the rest of the story, setting it in New York, without the Hispanic names.