El olfato narrativo / Silvio Orta Cabrera

The Narrative Instinct

From Cumaná. – I assure you, Rodolfo Izaguirre, that even though the occurrences narrated by Rubi Guerra in La forma del amor y otros cuentos happen in the recent past or in others of this region’s life, that’s not the most important factor regarding the substance of each short story within the collection of eight that won the 2009 Premio Salvador Garmendia.

This is spoken with certainty because “Past events exist (...) only in memory, which is a form of imagination,” according to the phrase by Ursula K. Le Guin, the American fiction writer, engraved on the doors of the book beside one by Francisco de Quevedo, regarding Virtue, once feared, lies “in vanity and in dream buried.”

These aren’t there as mere adornments for the hallway, but rather significantly. The author plays fair and gives clues. To explain them, the commentator feels the need to depend on intertextuality, to crucify himself for the truth with Kristeva and Bakhtin. But now he wants –as always– to stay within pure impressionism, in the register of amazement, joy, fury, emotions and commotions enjoyed and suffered with Guerra’s book.

A recording wouldn’t have been bad, so I might be seen on YouTube the minute during reading when the savagery of war highlights a human trait that I resist understanding even in an extreme situation.

For example, in the short story “La guerra,” the instant in 1817 when the hour arrives for the doctor and the two fugitive patriot soldiers to depart from the rural house, inhabited only by a grandmother and her young granddaughter, since the men were taken away by one of the bands. After dinner, they sleep in the manger and afterward, at that hour, occurs the event that unleashes the crisis the author has insinuated with masterful technique.

I would be seen stunned. The book to one side grazing the floor, more and more wild eyed while from the very center of the earth the infernal ascends through my arm never before felt in such a manner.

Why? What is different now? I think that in the subtle modeling of insinuation stands out the recourse to olfactory sensations and how the warrior animal interprets them.

The author of La forma del amor y otros cuentos senses the spaces in all those stories and recreates so much, with the instinct of each one of the beings that he fictionalizes.

So we sense universal human diversity and in this short story the effluvium of hatred.

Besides, when the doctor of the battalion defeated near Clarines rides “through an ancient dead lake covered with crusted salt,” the shots of a film throb in slow quietude.

In his love of form, Rubi Guerra developed a quality innate in David Suárez, our greatest screenwriter, by which the word designs and moves what others would hope to move with the resources of cinema.

That’s what you’ll see, better than I do, in this mature book.

{ Silvio Orta Cabrera, El Tiempo, 18 February 2011 }

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