That summer we had decided we were past caring. It was just too tiring, rushing back and forth between mental institutions. My father was in a well-known sanatorium in Switzerland, but to see him each month mistaking himself for Alfred de Musset, talking to me as if I were George Sand, and reminiscing about wholly imaginary events—and doing so, moreover, with a gaiety and malice that had their charm, no doubt, but seemed singularly out of place under the circumstances—was a burden. What was still more of 
a burden perhaps was that, deep down, I was very taken with this behavior, and, ensconced in the little train that made its way up to the village of Birgen against a magnificent backdrop of Alpine meadows and snowcapped peaks even in spring, I would make these monthly trips, the frequency of which I myself had determined—not too many, not too few—with the same feeling of terrified delight I had always experienced in my dealings with my father. Perhaps he would be better that day and make more sense? And sometimes he was. But I’m not sure I preferred him that way. I think, unfortunately, that I preferred him mad. On the train I would prepare to be mistaken for George Sand or some character in a book. He didn’t entirely mistake me for someone else—he knew I was his daughter and he knew about my life. He might ask for my news, inquire about my work or friends, but something would quickly slip out of gear. If he was happy, as much of the time he was, his imagination would start to bubble over, rather as it does when you are writing. It was this kind of secret joy, which had something slightly erotic about it, that would lead him to reminisce about books he had loved, books that had meant a lot to him, at which point he would start to overlay our conversation with a sort of pall or veil of images and recollections drawn from books he had read, not from our lives.