Palabras de presentación en la lectura de cuentistas latinoamericanos: Enza García y Mario Morenza (USB) / Dayana Fraile

Introductory Remarks at the Reading by Latin American Short Story Writers: Enza García and Mario Morenza (USB)

Good Afternoon.

Thanks to the invitation extended to me by Mariana Libertad Suárez and Editorial Equinoccio, I now find myself introducing two old friends of mine: Enza García and Mario Morenza.

I met both of them in the hallway that connects the Escuela de Filosofía and the Escuela de Letras at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, that hallway belonging to Mario’s other memories. I accompanied them, anonymously, in their first steps as writers during my academic internship at Monte Ávila Editores and I had the opportunity to participate in the editing process of their first publications: Cállate poco a poco by Enza and Pasillos de mi memoria ajena by Mario. I must confess I was very impressed by both manuscripts and that the best of dispositions marked my work and my readings at that time. I have always been inspired by the fiction being produced by young writers in Venezuela.

Enza García and Mario Morenza are a part of that avalanche of young fiction writers today who are transforming the landscape of the national literary tradition. Both of them, in a short span of time, have become central and paradigmatic voices of this emerging generation.

So it was a pleasant surprise to encounter El bosque de los abedules and La senda de los diálogos perdidos, books that received awards during the Concurso Nacional Universitario.

At the risk of seeming too informal, I will say that Enza’s short stories possess the virtue of shaking the floors and also the walls for us. They leave us picking up ceramic and plaster fragments, after a trembling of 7 on the Richter scale, as though it were possible to put everything back in its place with Crazy Glue or Elmer’s. Through her writing, Enza deconstructs traditional imaginaries and manages to assert agency in substantially original spaces of the creation and reading of those very imaginaries. Cállate poco a poco and El bosque de los abedules materialize battlefields between primordial pulsations and ancestral prohibitions. Freud said that all behaviors present themselves provoked by desire and, precisely, in El bosque de los abedules we can observe how a machinery of desire constitutes itself in the territories of logos.

In “El bonsái de Macarena” we notice a particularly interesting use of the keys to the construction of the female subject in these postmodern times. The narrator transcends the trite recourse to feminine victimization, recovering it in an ironic tone, right at the moment when she has taken on the role of murderer.

Simone de Beauvoir proposed that all sexual phenomena contain an existential meaning. “El bonsái de Macarena” seems to project this hypothesis, desire is the true trigger for the characters’ actions.

In this short story the theme of transcendence is important. I can’t help recalling that Simone de Beauvoir also said that the phallus carnally represents transcendence. The allusion the protagonist makes to her lover’s “very little” penis could be a metaphor, then, for the impossibility of attaining transcendence that these characters suffer. This impossibility definitely ends up pushing them toward the territories of anguish, desperation and antisocial behavior.

In another vein, Mario Morenza’s La senda de los diálogos perdidos evidences an excellent use of humor and a sense of the absurd. His characters are inserted in their respective individual tragedies, barely separated by thin walls. Notwithstanding, Mario makes use of the recourse of parody to define infinite possibilities for pleasure. Tragedies end up becoming tragicomedies, without losing in this process their original and constitutive meaning. Maybe this is why all of us who’ve read La senda de los diálogos perdidos remember it with a complicit smile. Mario’s writing, at times profound, at others poetic, also has the great virtue of making us laugh.

Reading Mario is like going to the beach for a weekend: it’s a renovating and fresh experience.

In “Dos tazas de café antes del trigésimo paso” we find some clues regarding the poetics that sustains the book. The narrator comments: “I like to lean on the balcony and watch people go by, see their faces. See how they contort their features. The situation animates me. This activity, in some way, reminds me of the horse races. All the residents of Block 4 return and depart to their own races. Between those two categorical points that establish moments, there exist phenomena of conclusive character. A story. And in their bags or suitcases and purses they carry their fragmented destiny. Minute pieces with which they’ll build their dreams or end up destroying them. One can say I witness the openings and closings of work days.”

Effectively, the intertwined stories of the characters, often nameless, of Block 4, establish a fragmentary narrative sequence charged with emotiveness. From one of imagination’s balconies, Mario reconstructs the lives of characters that balance themselves between the crushing weight of the quotidian and the restorative hope of each setting sun.

In “Adán y Oto, siameses” Mario takes up once again the literary recourse of the double, tearing it from the kingdom of the fantastic and depositing it in the territories of the grotesque. The myth of the double has always reminded us of the fragility of our identities. This myth resignifies the dualism that dominates human thought: body and soul, good and evil, life and death.

Mario, in an interview he gave to a well-known website, affirmed that the situation of the country might have permeated the writing of this short story. Regardless, he declares that his intention was to create an homage to Jorge Luis Borges’s A Universal History of Infamy and Roberto Bolaño’s Nazi Literature in the Americas. Without intending to establish reductionist readings, it occurs to us that this story, beyond the effective splitting of the country of the Siamese, could have an interpretation of a political bent, one that’s not too evident and which is perhaps deeper: the avatar of those siblings that must remain together, against their will, because they share vital organs.

Undoubtedly, El bosque de los abedules and La senda de los diálogos perdidos enrich and revitalize Editorial Equinoccio’s catalog. With a paper hug, I celebrate the authors and their editors.

Translator’s Note: Enza García Arreaza’s El bosque de los abedules (2010) and Mario Morenza’s La senda de los diálogos perdidos (2008) are published by Editorial Equinoccio at the Universidad Simón Bolívar.

{ Dayana Fraile, presented at Cuentistas contemporáneos latinoamericanos, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Caracas, 23 October 2010 }

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