In so few words, Andrés Neuman made me laugh, sigh, frown and marvel with the multiple universes that he created in The Things We Don’t Do.
The 35 stories are short with a new one appearing every few pages, sometimes even just one. While they all start on a clean slate, the emotional baggage, astute observation, or wry humour comes unravelling at such incredible intensity, several of them took my breath away.
Lastly, I confess that, despite everything, I still desired Nora, I desired her with a kind of carnal resentment. Her behaviour outraged me and her presence excited me. There are some people who possess the virtue of making us more luminous, like Elena. And others, like Nora, who have the unsettling ability to remind us of how dark we are. In a sense, that is a virtue. – “After Elena“
The Things We Don’t Do was one of the first books I read since I moved to Hong Kong. The snappy narratives made for breezy reading when riding the metro, enthralling me as I travelled between home and work. Often I was so immersed in them that I was oblivious to the peak hour commuter traffic to which I was still unaccustomed.
XII: To narrate is to seduce: never completely satisfy the reader’s curiosity. – “Dodecalogue from A Storyteller”
I read the book again a few months later. Even though I had already been acquainted with the characters, it was still a pleasurable read as I uncovered nuances that I had missed in the initial round. I suspect that The Things We Don’t Do will be making a few more appearances in the future, each time unveiling a little more magic from between the lines.