"Four years ago I got divorced, many times I wonder why I got married in the first place, how and when I decided, if I decided." This is one of the first reflections that Pablo makes in the different interlaced stories that are collected in The desire to repeat (Aloha!), The first novel by music journalist Yahvé M. de la Cavada, collaborator of EL PAÍS. Next to Pablo are Oliver and Adriana. The three live between apathy and conformism, giving shape to characters who are beating with doubts, frustrations and fears similar to those of any person who, as stated in another passage of the book, live knowing that they have made erroneous decisions or "the circumstances They have taken for you. " The desire to repeat, which is already preparing its second edition, is a remarkable novel about the crisis of middle age, where songs play a fundamental role in an existence where the promising future has become an insipid present.
Question. Music is the thread of the novel. Why?
Answer. More than a thread, I considered that music was the best framework to place the characters. Life has taken them to different points, but music is still a form of connection for all of them: it has always been there, as something important, a balm, a passion or even a refuge, both when they left adolescence and now, Two decades later. At the same time, each character has a different form of grief, doubts, failed projects or life situations that they can not control, and music is a cozy place that has never failed them. Something they can count on at the end of the day.
P. The three protagonists do not leave the disenchantment.
R. Yes, that is, in large part, the engine of the novel. I wanted to draw a story in which several characters converge to whom things have not gone as expected, because who has gone everything as planned when he was 20? I just turned 41, and around me I see many people who have not just found their place, or who have not just recovered from a divorce, a dismissal … We are constantly bombarded by images of success, on the one hand, and large dose of social frustration, on the other. Disenchantment is one of the signs of our current society.
Q. Does the book have a generational aspiration?
R. Claro, is that I wanted to write a generational novel. I grew up in the nineties being part of that thing that came to be called Generation X, and I wanted to write a novel about GX eneration, but 20 years later, when the children willing to eat the world have become bitter and emotionally dysfunctional types whose expectations have not been fulfilled.
Q. Do you think the generation of the nineties let circumstances decide for them?
A. I think that, at least in Spain, we are the first generation to which we were told in a frontal way that we could be what we wanted. We are the generation of the "JASP", that acronym ("Young but well-prepared") that sold to a new batch of elite youth in a car advertisement; we all had to be university students, we were all going to be winners. Promises that could not be fulfilled and that have led to new generations that start from a disenchanted perspective and expect that job insecurity is the norm, and not the exception. So I'm not sure if we let the circumstances decide for us or if there was no other option than to adapt to those circumstances.
Q. Are you afraid that the book will be anchored in a certain generation?
R. I thought about it, the truth, but although my intention was that the novel had that generational spirit, the emotions of the characters are quite universal. We have all been afraid, we have all broken our hearts, we have all felt lost at some point and we have all been trapped in some situation from which we wanted to leave. I trust that, over the years, the novel will be a generational fresco from another era and, at the same time, it will be sustained from the literary perspective.
P. Adriana is a very restless character musically.
A. He is a character who makes this concern a personal maxim, and personally I feel very identified with it. Adriana has a lot of me, and that musical restlessness is to assume that if there is a lot of music that you love in a genre, it is quite likely that there is a lot of music that you can love in other genres, other sounds, other creative proposals. Adriana is clear that, as that book by Calvin & Hobbes said, everywhere there is treasure.
P. Did you want to show through this character how there are people who do not evolve with music and stay locked in their niche or musical tribe?
R. My idea was not so much to denounce that reductionism that, indeed, exists, but to project the idea that music are languages: you speak them or not, but if you are horrified by death metal or flamenco, for example, it is not because they are shit, but because they use codes that are foreign to you. There is no problem in this, everyone likes what they like and is good, but in the same way that an Eskimo distinguishes dozens of different types of white, the amateur electronic music, trap or traditional music Iraqi distinguishes a thousand nuances from one artist to another, although a listener who is not involved in these genres sounds similar.
Q. The music that sounds in the book does not seem to be the music that fills you the most or that you show yourself specialized in the press. Why did you decide to include this music in the book?
R. Well, I am very specialized in jazz, which was my first great passion, but I love with the same intensity very different music, from Bach to Camarón. And in the novel I wanted to avoid jazz almost completely because The desire to repeat it is a literary work, a pure and hard novel, and he feared that if he framed it in jazz it would be understood as "a jazz novel written by the jazz critic". This was not the idea: music is present because it served me to work with the characters, but it is the work of a writer, not a critic. So it was important that the music that was being sown in the story had to do with the people who star, who grew up listening to Alice In Chains or Dinosaur Jr. and now listen to M. Ward, Spoon, Ryan Adams or The Wave Pictures, among others. All of them, like all the music in the novel, are artists that I personally love, but above all they are bands that have to do with the musical and emotional evolution of the characters.
P. How important is the music in your life?
R. Music is totally transversal in my life. Although literature interests me at the same level, music is not only my greatest passion, but my way of life, with what occupies most of my days, both on a personal and work-related level. The first thing I do when I get up or when I get home is put on music, work in the music world, write about music … Music is present in every aspect of my life. As a writer, what interests me most is the form, that what ends up on paper is counted as I want; but, as a critic, there is nothing that makes me as happy as a reader telling me: "I love this album, and I discovered it thanks to what you wrote." That is everything; what makes sense to exercise musical criticism.
Q. What books inspired you or did you subject yourself to for this first novel?
R. There were three important books in the genesis of the novel. The first, "Pórtate bien", by Noah Cicero, a fabulous novel that helped me to decide that, like Cicero in his book, I wanted to write a generational novel. «The Laws of Attraction» by Bret Easton Ellis, an extraordinary novel, inspired me some aspects of the polyphonic structure. Finally, «Matando dinosaurs con tirachinas», by Pedro Maestre, that fascinated me when I read it 20 years ago, and that I reread before writing The desire to repeat. One of the characters in my novel, Elia, is named after Maestre's novel.