Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.
And just for the sake of it:
En una ocasión oí comentar a un cliente habitual en la librería de mi padre que pocas cosas marcan tanto a un lector como el primer libro que realmente se abre camino hasta su corazón. Aquellas primeras imágenes, el eco de esas palabras que creemos haber dejado atrás, nos acompañan toda la vida y esculpen un palacio en nuestra memoria al que, tarde o temprano —no importa cuántos libros leamos, cuántos mundos descubramos, cuánto aprendamos u olvidemos—, vamos a regresar.
I feel dirty. Not only am I betraying my mother tongue by reading this book in English, but it also means I'll be reading a translation, and we know things get lost in it. It's also been over three years since I last read a novel in Spanish, so I don't feel great about that either. It's just that my Penguin edition is so attractive (I don't expect any less from them) and I can't help being so shallow.
Even though I should be reading this in Spanish, my Spanish is not Spain's Spanish. Which, to me, can be as foreign as any other language. "Literary neutrality" will be my go-to defense. This is how I'll be able to sleep at night.