Notebook Entry

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.


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