The Dream of a Ninety-Five

My favorite slip of nonfiction is the chapter "Oasis" in Antoine de Saint-Exupery's Wind, Sand and Stars, a loosely connected set of essays about Saint-Exupery's early experiences as a pilot. 

"Anonymous," a photo set by Argentine photographer Sofía López Mañán reminds me of that chapter, in which Saint-Exupery lands in Argentina and spends a night in a ramshackle mansion inhabited by two shrewd little girls whose secret inner lives become clear to him over the course of dinner. They are snake-charmers, princesses, friends to foxes, monkeys, and bees, and cruel judges of dinner guests, who they watch silently and judge, reminding Saint-Exupery of his own sister, who rated strangers at the dinner table on a one hundred point scale. 

"The drawing-room had about it something extraordinarily intense, like the face of a wrinkled old lady. The walls were cracked, the ceiling stripped; and most bewildering of all in this bewildering house was the floor: it had simply caved in. Waxed, varnished and polished though it was, it swayed like a ship's gangway. A strange house, evoking no neglect, no slackness, but rather an extraordinary respect. Each passing year had added something to its charm, to the complexity of its visage and its friendly atmosphere, as well as to the dangers encountered on the journey from the drawing-room to the dining-room."