The Private Lives of Trees

The Private Lives of Trees takes place over the course of a single night.  The protagonist, Julián, spends the night awake as he waits for his wife, Verónica, to return from a class.  Verónica's daughter, Daniela, has trouble sleeping, so Julián improvises an elaborate bedtime story about two trees.  As the hours pass, his worry over his wife's absence grows, and he finds himself reliving the past and imagining the future.  

"Sometimes the dawn found him juggling convoluted endings for his novel, which was clearly not a novel, but rather a book of fragments, or annotations.  He didn't want, really, to write a novel; he simply wanted to create a coherent place to pile up memories.  He wanted to put his memories into a bag and carry them until the weight destroyed his back."

Alejandro Zambra is a poet, novelist, and critic.  His works include Bahía Inútil, Mudanza, Bonsai, and The Private Lives of Trees.  As of now, only Bonsai and The Private Lives of Trees have been translated to English.  He lives and teaches in Santiago, Chile.

Published:  2007
Length:  98 pages
Set in:  Chile
Translated by:  Megan McDowell