De la literatura y de las carreteras: Entrevista con Carlos Ávila / Mario Morenza

Of Literature and Roads: An Interview with Carlos Ávila

A writer’s words tend to be solemn, but with Carlos Ávila they acquire the simplicity of phrases worth a thousand images.

On the day I arranged to interview Carlos Ávila I ran into him in one of the elevators of the North Tower of the Centro Simón Bolívar. We were heading to our respective offices like the other ten people in there. It was Monday. And it was 7:50 A.M. “Today’s the interview, right? When do we meet?” “When we get out,” I told him. “At 4:30 on the 12th floor. I’m tired. I’m just getting back from Mérida,” he mentioned. Suddenly, a power outtage. The elevator stopped. Everything stopped, except for the red glow with the word FULL trembling just above the elevator doors. They opened.

Writing without Rituals

– In what state do you get inspired to write.
– In the state of Mérida.* (See inset below.)

– If Caracas were the plot for a collection of short stories or a novel, what would you call it?
– I’d call it Caracas Is Not A Short Story [Caracas no es cuento].

– When do stories come to you?
– When I’m not paying attention, when I drift off and discover myself inside one.

– What Venezuelan author do you admire?
– I admire Armando Rojas Guardia, because it has been through his poetry that I’ve been able to be closer to the unnamable.

– What advice do you give young people who want to engage in literature?
– That they ask themselves if they really want to assume a life from a stance of total questioning and with the only certainty being that you’ll be wrong most of the time.

– Do you remember when you said to yourself for the first time: “I want to be a writer”?
– I think those things haven’t been premeditated; I’ve simply provoked it, I’ve taken a few steps, I’ve stopped taking others and circumstances have taken their own course. Now I’m linked to literature but I think all of this obeys an answer to life itself and not, at least in my case, something planned out in advance.

– Do you have a ritual?
– No.

Ávila Kaleidoscopes

– For Jorge Luis Borges the Aleph was in a basement; for Enrique Vila-Matas (Rómulo Gallegos Prize 2001), in Mérida. For Carlos Ávila, where does he find his own Aleph and what does it contain?
– My own Aleph would be in our voice, and it would be a name, it would be a word that contained all of them.

– What do the sounds of El Silencio [in downtown Caracas] mean for you?
– They mean the murmur of cities: the screams of the walls, the breathing of motors... The screeching of taxis, as Cayayo would say.

Carlos in Motion

– How do you see life, what’s it like from the 21st floor in the offices of El Perro y La Rana
– I see a place where everything is alive, a city where no zombies live, nor specters or any of those dark artifices among which some poets move. Though, to be honest, you can see it better from the 23rd, where there’s fire.

– How do you see life, what’s it like from a bus when you travel?
– I don’t know if it’s because one is always in motion, but crossing a path marked by the repetition of light posts and trees, one after another, always ends up being introspective. The road is reflexive, so that the glance turns inward, toward our memory or toward our imagination, toward things that hurt us and those that heal us, sometimes toward the names and gestures of the people one can’t forget, and almost always toward what we can’t resolve or respond to, all in an incessant and urgent gallery of images that repeat themselves while the landscape outside surges frenetically.

– How do you see life, what’s it like on the subway when you travel through the city?
– It’s active, it’s vertiginous and it’s rushed, it always moves faster; and I don’t know if that makes it all harder for some people, but for me in particular it ends up being defiant and because of that entertaining.


Fragment from the short story “Desde el monte” from the book Mujeres recién bañadas:

Mérida just beyond the roads. Surrounded by green, by brown and mountain. Way up, where the red-cheeked Chinese live: the sons of muleskinners and frailejón flowers, the grandsons of the Comala fire. Up there on the peak where parsimony and restraint grow. Far from the city noise. In that place, on the very crest of the world’s cathedral, rests Mérida: humid and still, fresh, like recently rained on trees, like a woman just stepping out of the shower, with her hair and crotch wet: smelling of God; of plants.


A short story writer who moves with and on the road of his stories.


Carlos Ávila (Caracas, 1980) received his undergraduate degree in Literature from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. In 2004 he obtained the Premio Nacional Universitario de Literatura, in fiction; a year later he received an honorable mention in the V edition of the Concurso Nacional de Cuentos SACVEN. He has published two books of short stories, Desde el caleidoscopio de Dios (2007) and Mujeres recién bañadas (2009), which will soon be released.

{ Mario Morenza, El Apéndice de Pablo #6, May 2009 }


Mario Morenza I said...

Qué tal, amigo, cómo anda todo? Llegué aquí por casualidad, y qué grata sorpresa encontrarme con un texto traducido de El Apéndice de Pablo 6 que apenas lo estamos empezando a promocionar por la web. Gracias por el gesto de llevar esta entrevista al idioma de Shakespeare. Un gran abrazo.


Ysaías Núñez said...

Muy bueno el blog, así como también la entrevista. Espero leer pronto a Carlos Ávila.


Guillermo Parra said...