El país de Adriano González León / Virginia Riquelme

Adriano González León’s Country

This country
is serious as fuck
[Este país es una vaina seria]
– Popular saying

Venezuela has always remained in constant movement. It has been a country that has never settled down. But despite that and any other element, this
is what we are, what Adriano González León reveals: a country that has always had its luggage packed as if awaiting a definitive journey. Or more accurately, a “suitcase-metaphor” – as Héctor Torres (2004) points out – that Andrés Barazarte carries with him, that holds Venezuela inside and contains everything that belongs to him, his memories, his family specters, his experiences, the image he has created of his Venezuela, of his origins and of his current life.

Adriano, the Author. País portátil, His Making
To name Adriano González León is to speak of El Techo de la Ballena and vice versa; and among the postulations of that literary group we find the recognition of the country
’s values, as well as the position of the writer and the intellectual facing that era’s society. González León would seem to accomplish these postulations right at the moment when País portátil establishes a palpable reality, placing specifically Venezuelan truths and identities on the scene. In a definitive sense, what we are objectively as a country. In the first place, the reference González León makes to past eras, narrating difficult and invaluable episodes from our history, whose “violence [left] its inheritance of ruin and which doesn’t cease even in our own days” (Torres, 2004). Episodes that begin with the struggles for independence, moving through the federal wars, caudillismo, and of course, the sixties, which together constitute the nucleus of the book’s plot. Secondly, by providing a skeptical vision, if you will, of the armed struggle of the sixties: “No one spoke anymore about objective and subjective conditions, apprenticeship was to be found in Molotov cocktails [...]. The matter was to choose, yes. But how could one serve a purpose when one hadn’t even shot a pellet rifle? How could one understand the struggle was no longer that extensive deployment of schemes at the café table, nor the enormous discussions of art for the masses?”

País portátil is a novel that presents itself without unnecessary rhetorical games and revealing a stance that does
not locate itself either in favor or against the political events it narrates, it merely shows; while it also includes the quotidian, the regional turns and dialectical speech, an element that suggests a great renovation in the novel’s use of language. Regarding this point, we could say that besides the narrow link that can be established between the criteria it aspires to renovate and political criteria, one can also track in País portátil a renovation of the discourse tied to the postures of El Techo de la Ballena and Sardio, since there is an integration of the narrative text of oral language within the novel, without establishing hierarchical differences between what “inadequate” and “adequate” speech says, thus including dialectical turns in the text, as opposed to Gallegos, for example. It’s also worth noting that, apart from language, Andrés Barazarte is not Gallegos’s reformist hero, on the contrary, he is the exploration of the character with his own existence, his doubts and reasonings. Andrés Barazarte is not Santos Luzardo.

Venezuela: A Portable Country
Adriano González León seems to direct his discourse toward the presentation of a fragmented country, imprecise in its events and its configuration, without negating its truth but rather venturing its affirmation. In this manner achieving the final product and establishing a position regarding what has happened; that because it is so detailed in its formation, it allows its atemporality. Moreover, I would dare to assert that this element represents itself, within the story, in the juxtaposition of temporal planes that the novel accomplishes. Its presentation in a discontinuous form, breaking with the linear nature of events, achieves a worthy reflection on the brusque and transversal cuts our nation’s history has suffered. In the case of the novel, we could understand it as a person fixes their remembrances in their memory, exactly as they come to him at the moment he evokes them. In this very manner the story of the Barazarte family is told and in this manner can Venezuelan history be seen. This is to say, a coming and going of events so that when the hour for a change or the establishment of a supposedly new era is at hand, all we see is a repetition of previous patterns.

Another important element to underline is the configuration País portátil makes of the image of deterioration. The episodes where such an image makes itself present are reiterated. We could recall Papá Salvador eating, the café where Eduardo runs into his schoolteacher, the presence of unpleasant smells throughout the story, all sorts of creatures eating everything (
“the ticks got into our walls, everything was fleas and lice and the astromelia dried up and the wind carried away the zinc from wall”), and in this manner a never ending series of reiterated references to deterioration.

In the end, País portátil opens potential analyses in each one of its pages, but if we must now close these notes, we can
find no better guarantee than that of an impeccable writing and a juxtaposed structure that can’t be missed in the reading: the structure that Adriano González León builds so as to tell us a series of stories that superimpose themselves in places and times, that are threaded with a zig-zag point we understand as the pages unfold and which will provide as a result a fascinating story that resounds at every step and booms in its final point.

{ Virginia Riquelme, Papel Literario, El Nacional, 9 February 2008 }

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