by Javier Marías

Back in August, Maruja Torres sent me an endearing, wistful article (“For JM,” she ventured to call it), though I have not had a chance to acknowledge receiving it until now, since I have been away for the past month. I would hate to have come off as rude, though, because I was very touched by the piece, and most especially by the warmth with which she spoke of her old friend, the writer Terenci Moix, who died not long ago. Moix, she assured her readers, had been the only person in the world with whom she could have a conversation about not only the marvelous Italian cinema of the 1950s and ’60s, but its most obscure actors and actresses as well, incidental and charming as they were. I understand how she feels, because with the death of Guillermo Cabrera Infante several months back, I myself have been reminded that there is one fewer person in the world who will understand who I’m talking about when I mention names like Elisha Cook Jr., Arlene Dahl, Henry Daniell, Dolores Hart, Robert Morley, or Diane Varsi. Cabrera Infante would have instantly been able to connect a face to every one of those names and hundreds more like them, and he could have easily recalled their most significant—though always secondary—performances as well, thanks to an encyclopedic memory and an appreciation of film so genuine that, on more than one occasion, he very openly admitted to me that as a man of letters, he had gleaned much more from the movies than he ever had from books, or even his own life experience.

Translated from the Spanish by Kristina Cordero

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Javier Marías was born in Madrid in 1951. English-language translations of his novels include All Souls, A Heart So White, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, and the short-story collection When I Was Mortal.

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