Batallas / Carlos Sandoval


Miguel Hidalgo Prince, Todas las batallas perdidas (Caracas: Bid & Co. Editor, 2012)

We’ve been hearing Miguel Hidalgo Prince’s name mentioned around Caracas literary circles since the evening when he read at the II Semana de la Nueva Narrativa Urbana in 2007, and even more after he received a mention for his excellent short story “La isla de Xisca,” that same year, in the Concurso Nacional de Cuentos sponsored by the Sociedad de Autores y Compositores de Venezuela (SACVEN). His texts have been included in several anthologies of contemporary fiction, and they are remembered for their constant presence in prestigious contests, which had turned him, up to now, into a mythical writer without a book. This is curious, if we consider that Hidalgo Prince is an obstinate fabulist who only looks at the world through short stories, many of which are to be found posted in various places on the web. Thus, the ten compositions that make up this volume constitute barely a fragment (compact and organic) of his creative activity. In the archives of his computer there are finished pieces that will appear in other compendiums or that are complying with the necessary repose before being submitted to exhaustive polishing sessions (his short stories display the sharp trait of meticulous revision, a development of form and content that reveal him as a versatile and prolific craftsman).

We shouldn’t believe, however, that he’s a compulsive fiction writer who seeks to win himself a place by means of saturating our bibliographical register with frequent deliveries. On the contrary, Miguel Hidalgo forms part of a group of Venezuelan writers barely older than twenty-five, who have taken up the task of writing as a declaration of faith and with a high sense of competence.

The expressions “declaration” and “competence” might seem alarming and even to exist outside the field of literature for many who consider the exercise of fiction, in this case, or poetry, the essential genre of the word, as completely removed from everyday “worldly noise”; that voluble world where man consumes himself in mere existence or thoughtless frivolities. And yet, as it’s corroborated in some of the plots of Todas las batallas perdidas, it is precisely there, in the passage of days, in the small miseries to which we must submit in order to survive the hours, that writing fulfills itself. By this I mean: written art only exists in those texts that are able to galvanize a sensation, a gesture, the uncontainable burden of the human; when the author dilutes himself in his material, becomes one with the prose, invisible and volatile: authentic. At which point we feel as though we’re reading a biography in pieces: which makes the collection, the effect belonging to works with an inalienable position of a vocation.

So that profession (control of narrative materials) and competence (a sensibility for giving expression to fundamental events) define the character of a practice that seeks to transcend the debased and transform into memory what must be told without deferment, because of an urgent expressive need. This is why it’s not irresponsible to point out that quite soon we will talk about the poetics of Hidalgo Prince as an example of literary honesty.

A child of the violence of an alienated megalopolis, his plots don’t spare anything, despite the chaos, when representing moving landscapes won over by a confidence in the other, he who goes into the street with the idea of reducing anyone who gets in the way of adding another night to his life; or who struggles against the forces that overcome him: the elements that demolish hills and drown neighbors. In each of these short stories there exists the reverberation of a country driven mad by poverty and disappointment, feeble and lost; but above all his pages shine with characters who are unforgettable because of their amorality and uselessness, aimless and authentic.

If fiction is a guided dream that the artist presents in a subtle and convincing manner for his readers, a pleasant or dangerous dream that makes us see the world differently as soon as we leave the final point of its actions, Miguel Hidalgo Prince is a fine exponent of souls, one of the names that will surely find a place in the list of important fiction writers of our 21st century.

{ Carlos Sandoval, Tal Cual, 3 March 2012 }

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