: Beáta :

an excerpt by Gary Gildner


So. Here I am with this American book to translate for Triomphe, the French publisher. Fate, how funny. Yes, yes, I had a choice. There were other projects. But I picked this one. I hate short stories! I don’t even read them for pleasure. Except now and then, to pass the time. The somber stories of Bruno Schulz, for example, when I feel moody. Okay—and Isaac Singer if I want to be charmed. Jean Rhys if I think I am attracted to a man who is no good and I need a bitter laugh.

Now, a different laugh. My old friend G., through this book, returns to Paris, and he has me to make him presentable! The truth is I am still a little angry with him. Yes, after all these years. I wanted to visit America. But how, without a visa? They won’t give me one at the embassy because—enormous fear!—I will go to New York and no doubt find a fabulous job paying thousands a week and prevent some poor American millionaire from adding to his pockets. And of course I will want to stay forever, yes? Perhaps the poor millionaire will starve! All because Beáta Wnuk, the Polish refugee from Paris, wants to earn a dollar and buy a nice pair of shoes on Fifth Avenue, maybe a hat as well, like Garbo’s. Ah, never mind.