“This intense, absurd tragedy, I realize now, is my invisible foundation. The myth of Pei Pei is born here—an image that picks up the devastation between Nietzsche and the world and between me and Hong Kong. The dead part of me still lingers in Hong Kong through Pei Pei.”
The friendship is both tender and antagonistic, deeply intimate and full of spite, and Elena reflects on the difficulty of telling her own story without Lila in it. There is Lila’s story and there is Elena’s story, but Elena realizes the two are inextricable.
There’s an emphasis on character action in fiction that I’ve always found hilariously American. We don’t read for historical perspective, for philosophy, for abstraction or allegory or poetic language as readily as readers elsewhere. Instead, there’s something distinctly boot-strappy about our attentions. The sense that we follow a character through their various arcs and impacts on the world seems somehow inextricable from our belief in self-made millionaires, our shark tanks and injunctions to “be all that you can be!”