"This novel is a rare case," he says. Luis Landero, Extremadura of 70 years, which now publishes, in fact, the rarest, most intimate, radical, of his novels, Fine rain. It was born from a real news, published by EL PAÍS, and leads, like the news, to the successive misfortune of a human collective that is a family, but that can also be a country or the whole world. It is amazing to tell it, and to read it, but the ironic detachment with which the author of Late age games (1989, like all his works, in Tusquets) turns it into a narrative excursion in which one enters as if indeed you would visit that family that, like the character of Abroad by Albert Camus, it seems that he has played "at the door of misfortune". It is also a novel that seems destined to be filmed by the John Huston's The dead from Joyce or by the Bergman of any of his chronicles of family ruins. He is complimented by those recipients. In the interview, in his usual place, the Commercial Café of Madrid, he also talks about his childhood, the best moment of his life.
Question. He has written a drama without drama.
Answer. This novel is a rare case. I was with another project. But I read in EL PAÍS in the summer of 2017 the news that a family had gathered to celebrate a birthday, then the dirty rags came out and in the end there was a tragedy. Then something strange happened: I saw the written book. Surely there would be something inside me, predisposed in my mind. The certain thing is that my irrational world was activated and I saw it until published, with this title, Fine rain. When I arrive the procès, at that time, I was writing nothing, that was too strong, but then in four or five months the novel came out, as if it were done alone.
P. How did you make something so complex easy to read?
R. It has a very strong core, very hard. Everything revolves around a party that will be organized by the children of a woman who will turn 80 years old. The whole story is anchored in a very solid terrain and a very compressed time. Then the character of Aurora appears [la mujer de uno de los hijos] as a filter to tell the story. That is a narrative resource. The decisive thing is the nucleus.
P. Is there a magisterium behind or did he solve it with his own narrative intuitions?
R. I guess part is trade and part is learned, as the story asks. I knew that this had its complexities because here all the members of the family are intermingling, from different points of view. That complexity is what makes it the most costly of all my novels. The truth is that this is not difficult, because it is harder for me to build a Lego with my grandson than to structure a novel. I mean it: I have experience in Lego, it's fun, rational. Here, in the novel, I suppose it commands intuition.
P. You write a bright book, The balcony in winter (2014), but in this the shade inhabits. How does the light go out?
R. The novel is not about shop windows, but about the back rooms of the characters, the memorial of small grievances that we all have. They often come from childhood, originate from small things and then reinvent themselves, because the past has a lot of invention, as in love, and often many things that we think we have lived or told us have been dreamed or imagined. Oblivion erases and the imagination writes and it is already known that when the imagination bites and becomes flesh, it no longer releases its prey. The individual has a world of small beliefs, uncontrollable little grudges, nor do we ourselves control all that irrational inner world. And that turbid world, that existential malaise, from which we more or less evaded can come to light.
P. That birthday is the door of misfortune. How did it come about as a symbol?
R. It is a reason for celebration, also for reconciliation because they also meet to reconcile a silent enmity for more than 10 years, wounds that are raging to leave that conceal something much more serious in the human being: his propensity to resentment, to revenge, to hatred
P. It could also be extrapolated to the countries, which celebrate and suddenly everything is twisted, there is a collective suicide and it is war ...
R. We have the example of Spain, without going any further. We were very happy during the transition, we seemed to celebrate a happy birthday, we were a very cohesive tribe, we liked each other for the first time, we said: "Damn, if we are even handsome!". In Europe they also told us that we were handsome. It seemed that in Europe it was Monday and that in Spain it was Sunday! Little things have been coming out little things and we have finished as we are finishing. Or what happens in Catalonia, whose historical identity in the field is largely an invention.
P. In his novel each person seems to maintain kindness from childhood until suddenly the adult life destroys everything ...
R. Sometimes man does not know how to be happy outside of childhood. Look at Spain: in spite of the crisis we are living a stellar moment, there are no wars for a long time, we live very well, we can travel, there is peace, prosperity. And there is always a general malaise. This is a bit inexplicable, that discomfort is part of the human condition. Basically what we do not want to say is that we are mortal, that our only certain destiny is death and then forgetfulness, that life is absurd. We all know - some more than others - that life is absurd, but we prefer to look the other way, we evade. Yes, man is a destructive being. We are destroying the Planet, pussy, without going any further! And it is a destructive being because it does not accept its ephemeral condition, of unimportant conjunctural creature.
P. In Fine rain beings that seem faultless break up to degradation ...
R. All our miseries are saved but on the prowl. We all go a bit of a bluff for life, especially when we're young, and it's okay to bluff because in the end we're going to lose somehow.
P. Draw a mother who weighs seriously ...
R. The mother are people that I have known. My aunts, my grandmothers, people who always dressed in black, with a bun and very tight lips and a very fatalistic vision of life because it is what she learned from the poverty that has been especially in the rural areas of this country. That's where I come from, people shaped by poverty, misery and pain. Of the bun I remember my grandmother's, pressed like a tennis ball. Once I discovered it in front of the mirror. His hair was a little graying and reached his hips. I was amazed. "She is with this wonderful hair, she is also my grandmother." The bun has a great symbolic charge: hair is prohibited, freedom is forbidden, happiness is forbidden because the gods punish her, fatality is on the way ... All this was said These women in mourning.
P. It will not be, Landero, that you have made a novel about the inquina?
R. Definitely! It dominates us In social networks has come to light that selfish and spiteful spirit of man; Before there was the same, but now it comes to light. In what way, it is embarrassing to read certain messages! All the inquina has come out of there, also all the banality ...
P. In Fine rain A birthday unleashes a civil war between brothers.
R. Remember the former Yugoslavia. Neighbors of all life become enemies. We do not remember that we descended from the tree and lost the tail recently, that we are half civilized. And there is a beast, an android inside us wanting to leave, and the only thing that represses it is a very fragile layer that is the culture, the civilization, the ethical convictions of each one. But that android is looking for a fight. As on that birthday, it brings out the beast that we carry inside and ends up in war, death, destruction.
P. A character, Gabriel, a philosopher, coexists the toys of his childhood with his secret perversions to escape the monotony of marriage.
R. He has created a stoic image, happy, imperturbable, and has to keep the type before everyone. But he has a secret life, a back room where he plays football with a little ball, as in childhood. That is autobiographical! I played with a little ball like that, I organized games. And Real Madrid always won! I have never resigned myself to stop being a child, to lose my childhood, because it has been the only time in which I have been really happy, in the same way that the only age in which I have known love has been in adolescence. The rest is literature. Childhood is happiness, adolescence love and the rest literature, apart from family, friends and other great things ...
P. Another character, the sister-in-law of these brothers in conflict, listens to the dramas.
R. I wanted to be a tribute to those who listen. And in a certain way I have also reflected something of what we are living in Spain. And in the world: this does not listen to us, these destructive stories that affect us. Not in vain I was thinking about the novel while it lasted procès, to which I have dedicated 10 hours a day of information. I lived it with an extraordinary passion.
P. And how did it affect you?
R. It hurts me a lot. It seemed silly when Unamuno said: "Spain hurts." Well, he was right! This is something that hurts. The lies hurt on one side and the other, and it hurts that we go back to the past. Since Cuba was lost, we have been asking ourselves who the hell is Spain and who are the Spaniards, without also being able to be normal Spaniards. Or one is presumed or reneged or ashamed of being Spanish. But is not there a fucking way to be Spanish in a normal way, like a Frenchman, a Swiss or a Uruguayan, fuck ?! Can not you be a normal Spaniard? Being Spanish is like being at war with something, it's a belligerent way of being. It's stupid.
P. This book is a winter door on which a final rain falls and creates a huge drama.
R. Yes, but it is the story that has spoken, not me. I have been an intermediary without more.