Juan Castillo’s Other Name is a short story by Graeme Smith.
It’s a tale of neurosis and delusion caused by a troubled childhood, an obsession with breakfast, and certain children’s books.
Juan Castillo, the narrator, has checked himself into some kind of facility to escape from the world and “set the record straight” about disturbing events from his past.
What we – and possibly he – discovers is that he can’t escape and that the fiction of the past continues to dictate present and future actions.
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Here’s the first bit…
Yo soy Juan. Juan Ramón…
No quiero huevos verdes y jamón.
– DR SEUSS
If only I could write like some great existential philosopher. Then I could write of the immense gloom and silence which surrounds me as I sit in my cell waiting out my fate. The whitewashed walls close in on me.
But I’m not. And I can’t. As it is – apart from certain moments – I’m not even all that pessimistic. Surely a necessary quality for any budding existentialist.
No French cafés or late-night soirees for me. No prison cell. In fact, the solitude of a prison cell would make this confessional far easier.
The silence would – am I sounding romantic? – lend itself to the necessary hours of meditation conducive to such an ending.
Nevertheless, here I am.
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About the Author
Graeme Smith is a writer, teacher and maker based in ]Aotearoa New Zealand. If you want to find out more or get in touch, you can: