Excerpt from Delirium by Laura Restrepo, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Delirium

A Novel

by Laura Restrepo

Delirium by Laura Restrepo
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2007, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2008, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt



***

EVER SINCE MY WIFE has been acting so strange, I’ve dedicated myself to helping her, but I’ve only managed to irritate her with my futile selfless efforts. For example, yesterday, late at night, Agustina got angry because I wanted to take a cloth and dry the rug that she’d soaked, obsessed with the idea that it smelled strange, and the thing is, it disturbs me to see all the pots of water she sets around the apartment, she’s taken to performing baptisms, or ablutions, or who knows what kind of rituals invoking gods invented by her, washing everything and scouring it with excessive zeal, my unfathomable Agustina, any spot on the tablecloth or grime on a windowpane torments her, dust on the moldings makes her miserable, and the muddy footprints she claims my shoes leave make her furious; even her own hands seem disgusting to her though she scrubs them incessantly, her beautiful pale hands red and chafed now because she gives them no respite, and she gives me no respite, and she gives herself no respite.

As Agustina performs her mad ceremonies she gives orders to Aunt Sofi, who has volunteered her services as willing acolyte, and the two rush about with containers of water as if this is how they’ll exorcise anxiety, or regain lost control, and I can find no part to play in this story, nor do I know how to curb the mystical mania that’s invading the house in the form of cups of water that appear in rows along the baseboards, or on the window ledges. I open a door suddenly and upset a plate of water that Agustina’s hidden behind it, or I’m unable to go upstairs because she’s set pots of water on each step. How can I go up the stairs, Aunt Sofi, when Agustina’s blocked them? Stay down here for now, Aguilar, be patient and don't move those pots because you know what a fuss she’ll make. And where will we eat, Agustina darling, now that you’ve covered the table with plates of water? She’s put them on the chairs, on the balcony, and around the bed, the river of her madness leaving its traces even on the bookshelves and in the cupboards; wherever she goes, quiet eyes of water open up, gazing into nothing or the unknown, and rather than being upset I feel the anguish of not knowing what bubbles are bursting inside her, what poisonous fish are swimming the channels of her brain, and all I can think to do is wait until she’s off guard, and empty cups and plates and buckets and return them to their place in the kitchen, and then I ask you why you look at me with hatred, Agustina my love, it must be because you don’t remember me, but sometimes you do, sometimes she seems to recognize me, vaguely, as if through a fog, and her eyes offer reconciliation for an instant, but only for an instant before I immediately lose her and the same terrible hurt invades me.

Strange comedy, or tragedy for three voices, Agustina with her ablutions, Aunt Sofi who plays along with her, and I, Aguilar, an observer asking myself when reason fled, that thing we call reason; an invisible force, but when it’s missing, life isn’t life and what’s human is no longer human. What would we do without you, Aunt Sofi? At first I stayed home twenty–four hours a day watching Agustina and hoping that at any minute she would return to her senses, but as the days went by I began to suspect that the crisis wouldn’t come to an end overnight and I knew I’d have to pluck up the courage to face daily life again. Maybe the hardest part is accepting the stretch of middle ground between sanity and madness and learning to straddle it; by the third or fourth day of delirium the money I had on me ran out and ordinary demands arose again, if I didn’t go out to collect the money I was owed and do my weekly deliveries there wouldn’t be anything to buy food with or pay the bills, but there was no way for me to hire a nurse to stay with Agustina while I was gone and make sure she didn’t escape or do something hopelessly crazy, and it was then that the woman who said her name was Aunt Sofi rang the doorbell.

Excerpted from Delirium by Laura Restrepo Copyright © 2007 by Laura Restrepo. Excerpted by permission of Nan A. Talese, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Ghachar Ghochar
    by Vivek Shanbhag
    The Bengaluru (aka Bangalore) that has dominated economic news headlines over the past decade is the...
  • Book Jacket: Caught in the Revolution
    Caught in the Revolution
    by Helen Rappaport
    So taken were BookBrowse's First Impression reviewers by the inside look at the start of the Russian...
  • Book Jacket: Hillbilly Elegy
    Hillbilly Elegy
    by J.D. Vance
    In this illuminating memoir, Vance recounts his trajectory from growing up a "hillbilly" in ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Mercies in Disguise
    by Gina Kolata

    A story of hope, a family's genetic destiny, and the science that rescued them.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -