It took me a while finding a text for my post in English. I have said before that I was interesting in writing about Latin-American books, but I was not excited enough with my most recent reading. I mean, I have read very interesting books lately, but I was not totally convinced. Until I read Jueves (Thursday). Last week I went to the register office to renew my ID card and I was preparing for a long waiting. The office has been struggling with attention throughout a year I think, so I was not expecting any better. I was right, because I spent three hours until my number was finally called. And I took that time in the reading of Jueves (La Calabaza del Diablo, 2009) by Luis Valenzuela Prado, a Chilean writer. I read the whole text. It’s not a long book, just about 130 pages or so, but it was not all about its length, but the writing: a very fluid narration about the long waiting before a celebration which never takes place. You can imagine that I could also relate to the waiting situation.
The novel presents three friends: Betulio, Fresno and Valenzuela. The latter two have planned a celebration to Betulio. We never know why; we just know –or we sense- that it’s destined to failure. But the celebration mood –which involves a lot of drinking-, seems just an excuse to talk, to narrate certain issues from the past, to deepen about friendship. So we begin to meet and kind of care for these three young common men. They are not heroes or successful people, but, as Fresno puts it, it is not about the story but how you tell that story. So we found dialogues and also a lot of thinking by Valenzuela, who is also the narrator, thoughts which are intervened by the other characters, making the narrative fluid but also ambiguous. Ambiguity seems right, because the narrator is a man who doubts about things, in his own words he is not able to get to the point; he just talks in a roundabout way.
Jueves was recently reissued because of the publishing of Operación Betulio, in which we met again with these friends, now looking for Betulio who went back to his natal Bolivia. I still reading it -actually I started it at the same waiting for my ID card renewal-, but I am very excited about reading again about these guys, now traveling through the country, in such an opposition to Jueves, which takes place in a tiny apartment during the night. I expect to write about Operación Betulio in the following weeks.