Whereas Mr. Grostephan accosts you with pungent sensory description, Mr. Vásquez is psychological and abstract. “Fear,” Antonio says, “was the main ailment of Bogotanos of my generation”; elsewhere he likens that fear to a contagion, a contamination and a plague. Much of his narrative is shaped by an obsessive attention to minuscule gestures or details. Ordering coffee, Antonio watches a waitress wipe the table with “a melancholy, stinking rag”: “I saw her dry knuckles, crisscrossed by gritty lines; a specter of steam rose from the blackish liquid.” The effect is awkwardly portentous.
Bogotá is not yet available on zkindle, but I’ll be reading both.