We are in a downtown hotel in Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo León (Mexico), one of the ones with the most cartels in the whole country. Together with the delegation of guests to the Book Fair UANLeer, Several hundred people attend, on the first floor, another type of convention. They come from all corners of Mexico, and some from the United States. They are members of Narcotics Anonymous (NA), an international association that, in the manner of its cousins of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), helps people around the world to leave the drug, from only group therapy sessions, where the addicts they speak with the confidence that anonymity gives them. Let no one think only of the petty-bourgeois versions of this problem: Ezekiel is from Panuco and they have decapitated a friend of his; Lupe was kidnapped and forced to prostitute herself in the Portales neighborhood of Mexico City; Gustavo left by legs of the poster Santa Rosa de Lima and he is afraid that they are still looking for him; Irvine is a writer and ... a moment, what are you doing here? Irvine Welsh?
The author of Trainspotting -Novela published in 1993, about five boys hooked on heroin in Edinburgh, one of the most influential works of the twentieth century- belongs to the guests of the upper floors of the hotel, those attending the book fair. From Miami - where he lives now - he has come to participate in the activities of the Anagram chair of the UANL and to talk about his latest novel, A powder in conditions, the adventures of a taxi driver addicted to sex. Informed by The vanguard that he was celebrating an NA convention, he goes to chat with some participants .. He knows perfectly the calico: "I attended these meetings in cities like London or Amsterdam, I was hooked on heroin for 18 months and it was a great help to be able to leave. Now I am 60 years old, and I drink only occasionally, but if, at some point, I see that I have control problems again with some substance, I would not hesitate to attend again. It's an emergency bell that I know is always there. "
"I was addicted to heroin for 18 months, and these meetings helped me," says Welsh
Welsh, the son of a waitress and a stevedore, approaches the small table where the coffee thermos rests. "Guys, can I take one? I miss him ... that moment of the coffee machine, when I was a human wreck and I felt that, at least there, they loved me ". The arrival of Welsh has caused a small commotion in the corridors. They all seem very fans of him and ask him to sign bags, shirts, programs, photos are made with him ("this selfies is not very anonymous, right?" Jokes the writer) ... "Mr. Welsh! I've seen fifty times Trainspotting! -Says Luis, from Durango-, 25 of them while consuming and 25 being clean. They put it in the rehabilitation center ... I always learn new things. " "Wow, so you got the pasta in the center and I was not sent the royalties", the Scot releases, with a funny air.
Author of 15 books, they ask him mostly about the series with the characters of Trainspotting, this is, Tail (2001), For not (2002), and the prequel Skagboys (2012), "there you will see them before falling, some wanted to be professional soccer players, others ran marathons ...". Welsh says that, in English, he has already published another from the same gang, Dead Men's Trousers. "How are you doing now? What are you doing?" Asks someone as if interested in some old friends. "Well, they are 25 years older," the author replies. "Renton is a successful DJ, he travels a lot, he takes coca and tranquilizers; Sick Boy has gotten into business, he's a kind of chuloputas and he takes coca once in a while; Spud is still a junkie, he has not moved, and he leaves it intermittently; and Begbie is the one that has been most successful, as he is a prestigious international artist and does not even try alcohol. Spud and Sick Boy, moreover, get into the world of organ trafficking. " "Which of them do you seem more like?" Asks someone. "Of character, to Renton - Welsh says - that although he is doing well he feels that something important is missing in life, he has that desire to control everything and socially he is very inept".
Welsh sits down to have coffee in a room with a small group of members: Luis; Francisco and Yogi, from Saltillo; and Bernardo, from Nueva Rosita. "I channeled," he tells them, "that genetic tendency to compulsion, obsession ... into something positive. I turned my obsessive-compulsive disorder around. All the traits of my character that were a problem now I channel them into the production of books. I also do yoga like a madman, I can not go without that spiritual part. I'm still an obsessive and I'm like silk! Obsession, in a writer, is a virtue. "
"A child draws, writes, sings ... but the fucking labor system disintegrates us"
The addicts tell him that, like him, they try to write every day, because "a part of the therapy consists of that". "We are all writers, artists, singers, cartoonists! -Welsh replies- If you look at a child, it's the first thing he does, it's very human. But they prepare us for the fucking working system and they break that personality, they disintegrate us, they stop us painting, writing and dancing. That's why you write, because when we do that again we reconnect with our humanity and people feel better. It's like coming home. "
One of those present also attends meetings of alcoholics, and Welsh shakes his head. "I can not give lessons, because each one is doing well differently, but I always recommend going to NA meetings," he replies, "even if there is only one alcohol problem, because people are more coiled, young people go to NA. because, you will tell me, who is the one who, today, has only had alcohol? "(everyone laughs). "The grandparents who have worked all their lives in the factory go to AA," the writer continues. In NA I saw more creative people, artists, musicians, writers, I felt more stimulated. In a few places so many interesting people are known. "
For Welsh, "beyond all the physical and mental problems that drugs bring, among them anxiety or depression, there is a clear indicator, that moment when you only take them because, if not, you feel sick. That means: you have to stop. At first I had a good time, it gave me a feeling of invincibility, but then it became a serious problem. If you manage to leave, you realize all the energy that you had there asleep ... even in sex! "
"We exist all over the world," says Luis, "also in Barcelona, put it on, if only a person with problems who read it knew us and managed to quit drugs, his article would have been worth it".
Zero zero zero (Anagrama / Empúries, 2014) by Roberto Saviano. "Writing about cocaine - says the author, an Italian journalist threatened with death by the mafia - is like consuming it. Every time you want more news, more information .... " Show how international traffic works white powder, "The drug that moves the world", with special attention to Colombia and Mexico, and its role in international finance.
Until you can love yourself
(Alfaguara, 2016) by Pablo Ramos. The addiction, from within. The author, Argentine, makes a shocking autobiographical journey to the world of drugs through a protagonist who enters therapy and the characters he is getting to know. The book is structured in twelve parts, following the Twelve Steps program of associations such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Relatives, abstinence syndromes, relapses ...
What a good day (Reservoir Books, 2018) by Ayelet Waldman. A month in the life of a woman, lawyer, writer, wife and mother of four children in the USA. which seeks stability by taking microdoses of LSD. In this essay, he also explores history and myths in relation to drugs, as well as the Byzantine struggle that the State maintains with them. Zadie Smith said it was "the most fun book I've read lately."
The shy assassin
(Seix Barral, 2018) by Clara Usón. In the Spain of the transition, the narrator (Usón herself) follows the biography of actress Sandra Mozarovski uncovering while she is thrown by a personal abyss that will make her enter a rehabilitation center for drug addicts. One of the best novels in Spanish of recent times, won the Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz prize from FIL de Guadalajara.
Sirens (Red and Black, 2018) by Joseph Knox. Black novel endorsed by Lee Child, the protagonist is the detective Aidan Waits, hooked on amphetamines, which moves through a postindustrial and nocturnal Manchester in which Zain Carver, the drug lord of the city, seems to control the course of the events.
My year of rest and relaxation (Alfaguara, 2019) by Ottessa Moshfegh. Wonderful novel about a young woman who decides, after a love disappointment, to lock herself in her apartment in Manhattan to, with the help of the recipes that an extravagant doctor supplies, hibernate to the extent of her possibilities. The extensive catalog of medications and the effects that each one has on the protagonist's spirit generate a handful of tragicomic situations.