Roberto Martínez Bachrich: Me siento lúcido frente a un cuento / Michelle Roche Rodríguez

Roberto Martínez Bachrich: I feel lucid in front of a short story

While his short stories are shrouded with the quick intensity that drags the reader toward the final effect, Roberto Martínez Bachrich’s modesty captivates. Wary of interviews, or false stage lights, he only feels comfortable when talking about the writer’s work. For him, literature is what others do; his own work is merely “an irresponsibility.”

But since every mania has its cure and and each writer his editor, the new imprint Lugar Común presented last night Las guerras íntimas, the most recent collection of short stories by the author born in Valencia in 1977.

A relationship that unravels, two vengeful nephews, a man with an aversion toward tables, a pair of reckless youths, the feline perversity of a woman who uses her lovers, the journey of a family of Italian immigrants or the ghost of a decapitated nurse, these are some of the anecdotes about small daily passions that parade through the book.

(Re)writing. Martínez Bachrich finds the best of his literary experience in the constant editing of his texts, even to the point of paroxysm. For example, the first version of Las guerras íntimas was finished in 2001 and it was a collection of 16 short stories. But, in the process of correcting it, only the title and five stories remained. Between 2002 and 2007 he created a dozen more and after the task of rewriting he was left with the list of 10 stories that have just been published: “My first short story collections were published very quickly and I try not to repeat those errors any more.”

The most evident trait of his prose is a return to the classical forms of the short story, which once represented the vanguard of the style of Julio Cortázar’s Historias de cronopios y famas (1962).

With cohesion as a premise, not a single phrase in his stories is extraneous. “Surprise is a pillar of the classic short story and in these texts I’m working on the idea of attaining it, thinking of the knock out Cortázar discusses,” he points out before emphasizing the real weight of the symbol in the short story: “The image can be a point of departure, but the arrival passes through the necessity of a story that’s autonomous and well-rounded, that works.”

Other short story collections by the same author are Desencuentros (1998) and Vulgar (2000). Nearly a decade ago he published the poetry collection Las noches de cobalto, but he prefers not to talk about that genre, though he hasn’t abandoned it: “I feel lucid in front of a short story because I can defend it and I understand where it comes from, which doesn’t happen to me with the poem.”

Now, as he enjoys or in his case, rather, flees from the brief flashes of celebrity that touch those who present a book in Venezuela, he is also finishing the last details of his biography of Antonia Palacios entitled Tiempo hendido, which won the tenth edition of the Concurso Transgenérico de la Fundación para la Cultura Urbana last year.

{ Michelle Roche Rodríguez, El Nacional, 4 June 2011 }

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