Excerpt from Turing's Delirium by Edmundo Paz Soldan, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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

Turing's Delirium

by Edmundo Paz Soldan

Turing's Delirium by Edmundo Paz Soldan
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jul 2006, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2007, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


The Vigenère Room is empty. The hands of the clock on the wall read 6:25 a.m. Ramírez-Graham hadn’t been thorough enough and had left mechanical clocks in the building. Surely he would soon replace them with red numbers in quartz, analogue with digital. Such useless modernization. Seconds more or seconds less, precise or imprecise, time will continue to fl ow on and in the end have its way with us.

The building at this hour is still chilly. It doesn’t matter: you like to be the first to arrive at work. You learned that from Albert, your boss for over twenty-five years. Continuing on with the tradition is your homage to the man who did more for cryptanalysis in Río Fugitivo than anyone else. Albert is now confined to a medicinal-smelling room in a house on Avenida de las Acacias, delirious, his mind unable to respond. He is proof that it’s not good to overload the brain with work: short circuits are the order of the day. You like to walk down the empty hallways, to see the desks in the cubicles piled high with paper. In the still air your eyes rest on file folders and ghostly machines with the disdainful arrogance of a benevolent god, of someone who will do his work because some unknown First Cause has ordained it and it’s not wise to defy destiny.

You press the elevator button and enter that metallic universe where the strangest thoughts have always occurred to you. Will the elevator malfunction and plunge you to your death? You are heading to the basement, to the archives, to the ends of the earth, to a death chamber that only you inhabit. It is even colder down there. Suspended in the air by thick cables, you move without moving, in peace.

There is something special about this elevator. Its green walls, simple efficiency — a solid nucleus of stable movement. What would you do without it? What would people do without them? Otis, six passengers, 1000 pounds. You stare at the name. You spell it out: O-T-I-S. Backwards: S-I-T- O. It is a message striving to break free, and it is destined only for you. I-O-T- S. I’m Obliged To Say. Who’s obliged to say what?

The general archives are in the basement. You are the link between the present and the past. You hang your jacket on a broken coat rack. You take your glasses off, clean the lenses with a dirty handkerchief, and put them back on. You pop a piece of spearmint gum into your mouth, the first of many. Never chewed for more than two minutes, they are thrown out as soon as the first flavor is gone.

You feel the need to urinate. That sense of having to go immediately has been with you since adolescence. It’s one of the worst manifestations of your anxiety, the way in which your body compensates for your apparent immunity to emotions. All of your underwear is stained the color of burned grass. You suffer from it even more now that you work in the basement; the architect never thought to put a bathroom on this floor. Perhaps he assumed that whoever would work in the archives could take the elevator or stairs up to the bathrooms on the ground floor — a normal human being, someone who might go once or twice a day and not be bothered. But what about someone who is incontinent? How insensitive.

You open the bottom drawer of your desk and take out a plastic cup with a smiling Road Runner on it. You head to a corner of the room, your back to the archives. You lower your zipper and urinate into the cup: six, seven, eight amber drops. That’s why you don’t like to go to the bathroom; the result is usually incompatible with the sense of urgency. It’s better to accumulate drops in the cup and then casually pass by the bathroom to dispose of your fragrant treasure at lunchtime.

You put the cup back in the drawer.

The pile of papers on your desk seduces you; bringing order to chaos, partially winning the battle against it, and being ready for the next onslaught is a game that lasts for days and months and years. Cryptanalysts’ desks tend to be impeccable, with papers stacked on either side, pens and reference books lined up one next to the other, the computer monitor standing guard, the keyboard on the shelf hidden beneath the desk. It is the reflection of a pristine mind that does its work with great dedication to logic.

Spanish edition copyright © 2003 by Edmundo Paz Soldán, English translation copyright © 2006 by Lisa Carter. Reprinted with permission by Houghton Mifflin Company.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Tender
    by Belinda McKeon
    Most of us have heard the slightly trite saying: "If you love something, set it free." But one can ...
  • Book Jacket
    All Tomorrow's Parties
    by Rob Spillman
    In this absorbing memoir, co-founder of Tin House magazine, Rob Spillman, recalls his artistic ...
  • Book Jacket: Strangers in Their Own Land
    Strangers in Their Own Land
    by Arlie Russell Hochschild
    Arlie Russell Hochschild's dive into the heart of Tea Party America is as good a glimpse of ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Sellout
by Paul Beatty

The first book by an American author to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Caught in the Revolution
    by Helen Rappaport

    A masterful retelling of the Russian Revolution from the author of The Romanov Sisters.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A Piece of the World
    by Christina Baker Kline

    A stunning novel of friendship, passion, and art from the #1 bestselling author of Orphan Train.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live

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

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Your F C

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.