A hundred thousand times a day. 10 pints a minute.

photography, RedF Nam Le Hoang Vietnam

The thing about Simon Limbres’s heart, this human heart, is that, since the moment of his birth, when its rhythm accelerated, as did the other hearts around it, in celebration of the event, the thing is, that this heart, which made him jump, vomit, grow, dance lightly like a feather or weigh heavy as a stone, which made him dizzy with exhilaration and made him melt with love, which filtered, recorded, archived — the black box of a twenty-year-old body — the thing is that nobody really knows it; only a moving image created by ultrasound could echo its sound and shape, could make visible the joy that dilates it and the sadness that tightens it; only the paper trace of an electrocardiogram, set in motion at the very beginning, could draw the shape, describe the exertion, the quickening emotion, the prodigious energy needed to contract almost a hundred thousand times a day, to pump nearly ten pints of blood every minute, yes, only that graph could tell a story, by outlining the life of ebbs and flows, of gates and valves, a life of beats — for, while Simon Limbres’s heart, this human heart, is too much even for the machines, no one could claim to really know it, and that night, that starless and bone-splittingly cold night on the estuary and in the Pays de Caux, as a lightless swell rolled all along the cliffs, as the continental shelf retreated, revealing its geological bands, there could be heard the regular rhythm of a resting organ, a muscle that was slowly recharging, a pulse of probably less than fifty beats per minute, and a cell-phone alarm went off at the foot of a narrow bed, the echo of a sonar signal translated into luminescent digits on the touchscreen — 05:50 — and suddenly everything raced out of control.

~ Maylis de Kerangal, The Heart: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2016)

Photo: RedF by Nam Le Hoang, Vietnam



  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this snippet! And, the last line, loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And, the book (I’m half way through), highly recommended.

      Liked by 1 person

    • …there must be a maximum of four hours between the moment when the heart is stopped inside the donor’s body and the moment when it is restarted in the recipient’s body. […] The search progresses and Marthe moves her face closer to the screen, her eyes enormous and distorted behind the lenses of her glasses. Abruptly, her yellowed fingertips immobilize the mouse: a high-urgency case has been identified for the heart— a woman, 51 years old, blood group B, 5′ 8″, 143 lbs., in the hospital at Pitié-Salpêtrière, in Professor Harfang’s department. She carefully reads and rereads the information, knowing that the call she is about to make will provoke a general acceleration at all levels on the other end of the line, an influx of electricity into people’s brains, an injection of energy into their bodies— otherwise known as hope.

      ~ Maylis de Kerangal, The Heart: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2016)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, pulled inexorably into this narrative with just a short passage. Must. Read. Thx for the heads up, pal!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. WLS – I was rapt…heading to Amazon right now. I need a ‘love’ button.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jordan Richardson says:

    Very cool. Love the quickening thrust of the writing. Very propulsive. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. my heart skipped a beat reading this –

    Liked by 1 person

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