Juan Urbano is diluted between words and doubts that shake him. His Bible is the proverbs of his mother and the poetry of the Golden Age. The dynamics of curiosity disarms him and upsets his plans. He knows where he belongs, but not where he is going. Benjamín Prado gave birth to him in his columns in EL PAÍS, where he was baptized by this high school teacher, who was a detective and commissioned author. An alter ego with which to put the points on the i's to a country with black shadows. The kidnapping of children went through him Bad people who walk, the transition in Operation Gladio, the real estate chapapote in Reckoning and now, in The thirty families, the past, present and future of the affluent clans and the peripheral oligarchies. As his mother would say: "You get in some fregaos ...".
She does the simultaneous translation of his moods to the old Castilian. "Mother and son are a little Quixote and Sancho," says Prado. Once, Miguel Delibes asked if the character that came out in his novels had to do with his. Prado replied that yes and the teacher, with almost no hint of doubt, continued: "Will not it be from Valladolid? Because here we talk like that. " It was, Dona Maria Angeles. And Benjamin never strips himself of his deep wisdom transmuting it as a traveling companion for Juan Urbano.
His alter ego already has a neat résumé of tiny moral victories and thunderous personal setbacks. Halfway between Chandler's Philip Marlowe, Phillip Roth's Zuckerman and Vázquez Montalbán's Carvalho, he has jumped into the 21st century in search of whys and only stumbles for no reason. "In the end, what Juan Urbano pursues all the time is reduced to changing a letter: Una n por una v. The one that separates cynicism from civility ".
"In the end, what Juan Urbano pursues all the time is reduced to changing a letter: Una n por una v. The one that separates cynicism from civility "
"I looked in the mirror until I stopped being myself," Juan Urbano says almost at the beginning of The thirty last names (Alfaguara). He must hide his appearance as a protected witness but shortly after they find him to convince him to do a job: write the story of a couple of families imbricated in the genealogy of the Espriu (Catalans) and the Quiroga of Feijoo (Galician), perhaps so that let's not lose perspective when we see how the powers born at the edge of the sea influence the plateau.
The motorcycle that plans on the whole book is a maxim of Balzac: "Behind every great fortune there is always a hidden crime". In their case, original sin goes back to the slave trade between Africa and America. A magnificent stage to truff Urbanan's adventures with Joseph Conrad, Emilio Salgari or Herman Melville. Or with The Godfather: "Lluís Espriu acts a bit like Michael Corleone. He can be curious, his intention is noble, but fate overcomes him, "says Prado.
He is the one who orders Urbano to write the history of his family on request. And the professor detective, who had planned to return to Madrid to begin with, does not know what kind of life he is, he lets himself go. Or how his mother would say, curiosity killed the cat. "It is a gossip of low intensity and high flights," says Prado. "And that's where he meets those families who handle everything without us being able to see their faces, who constantly give orders to those we believe they command and we have chosen."
Thus, Prado is weaving a thread that leads from the Spain of Fernando VI to the present: "Power and money have always been well. Although some of them are now signing up for independence, we must know that Isabel II protected and encouraged the financial and banking interests of Catalan families, which Franco and Primo de Rivera commissioned infrastructures. Life is not an exact science. Two plus two, add four? It depends, even in this world stultified by numbers. "
Where numbers are more important than names, a barbarity that only produces dehumanization. A permanent mess for this teacher of language and literature with leave to finish, that in his permanent loss has always something clear: unmask what repels him. Although for this, as his mother would say, have to get into shirts of eleven yards.