Gabriel Payares: “Nos hace falta más tragedia y menos épica” / Michelle Roche Rodríguez

Gabriel Payares: “We need more tragedy and less epic”

                              (Photo: Manuel Sardá)

Gabriel Payares was born in England 30 years ago and he left that country when he was 3 years old. Since then he’s never gone back. He fears that doing so he’ll feel as foreign as he does in Venezuela. This sensation of foreigness embellishes his literature and is also the narrative motive that guides “Epílogo: Londres, 1982,” the seventh short story in his most recent collection, Hotel (Editorial Puntocero).

A man’s life changes course like a ship at the mercy of sea winds, a phone call that reveals the turbulent relationship between Mariana and her family and the disappearance of a hotel guest are the themes of some of the stories from the book by the author of Cuando bajaron las aguas (2008). The rest of them end up drawing a fictional cartography of alienation, the awareness of vital cycles and the art of writing. Thus in one of them appears the image of a man who arrives in Buenos Aires to revisit the memory of the woman who left him; in another, the Nagasaki bomb is a metaphor of an affair between a professor and a student; and in the one titled “Samsara” —which in Sanskrit means “rebirth”— we are shown when a writer’s marriage is brought back together, which coincides with the expected illumination of his novel.

Exile, rebirth and reflection on writing itself are persistent themes in Hotel. How do these ideas relate to your previous book?

In Cuando bajaron las aguas, the battered, destroyed home as a source of suffering was the predominant image. I was obsessed with inheritances, what we receive without wanting it, and some of that’s also in this book, where I work the opposing figure: that of the hotel, which summarizes the character of the ephemeral and the other. The world is a transitory place; assuming this awakens the awareness of death.

The hotel, as a metaphor of a brief stay, can also define the short story. In what way are these vignettes related to your own experience?

The prime material of writing is the writer. Now, some of them are more centered in the construction of characters and others, with whom I identify, are moved by the idea. In each character I find the echo of the ideas that obsess me. In Hotel each short story responds to an idea and the materialization of the story in its setting. IN this way, the story is an artifact of reading, on the one hand allowing us to read the anecdote (to recreate the idea) and on the other to think about concepts (to reflect on it).

Where does your fascination for the lower half of the South American continent come from?

The melancholic view is more frequent there, which can be depressing, but it allows a different national consciousness to emerge. Venezuela could benefit from that, since its people would acquire a tragic consciousness. The vocation for reflection would help us avoid to continue repeating ourselves, trapped in the time of a whirlwind of the homeland. We need more tragedy and less epic.

How can literature contribute to this?

We Venezuelans like the spectacular and in our avidity for entertainment we have forgotten that the idea is to think of ourselves. The reinstitutionalization of the country, which is the only possible path for us to get out of this mire, includes a process of national reflection that is inescapable and that’s why it worries me to see that people often propose the arts as a spectacle.

{ Michelle Roche Rodríguez, El Nacional, 26 September 2012 }


inespoe@gmail.com said...

Excelente entrevista, muy profundas reflexiones de este autor que yo no conocía.

En realidad, creo que más que un cambio de presidente, necesitamos de manera más urgente el cambio de la gente. Hoy fui a nadar a una piscina pública en la pequeña ciudad alemana donde vivo. Entro como una metralla y empiezo a nadar furibunda, queriendo beberme las aguas, las olas, las brazadas, para hacer posible todo el ejercicio del mundo en 50 metros. Me detengo agotada, jadeante, y observo a los alemanes, que más pausados nunca interrumpen su ritmo de nado. Así van una piscina tras otra, sin pretender sobrepasar a los demás pero sin detenerse. Pienso inmediatemente en quién soy yo y cómo son los alemanes. Pienso en su disciplina, en su no descanso ante el trabajo. Entiendo que mi país carece absolutamente del valor del esfuerzo, de la conciencia positiva que puede tener la constancia, en los efectos no inmediatos de cumplir y respetar las reglas. Nos faltan tantas cosas, veo que Venezuela se ha quedado varada en la carretera, sin entender mucho su destino, celebrando sus tragedias. Creo que más que falta de tragedias, necesitamos más verdaderos funerales, desterrar del mundo de las palabras "me tiene sin cuidado" para entrar en los "me importa".

Bis bald!

Guillermo Parra said...

Gracias por comentar. Recomiendo muchísimo la obra de Gabriel Payares, es excelente escritor. En la literatura venezolana hoy en día, muchos están trabajando disciplinadamente y produciendo cosas interesantes. La literatura venezolana está en uno de sus mejores momentos. Pero, por supuesto, en el país en general falta mucho por hacer. Saludos.