Depicting a futuristic Madrid
This article is from 2007.
Rafael Reig, the author, lecturer and composer of a PhD thesis on 19th-century literary depictions of the prostitute, certainly knows how to choose an apt quotation. He begins Blood on the Saddle with the words of Brazilian writer, João Guimaräes Rosa: ‘You want to swim across a river and you take to the water; but you’re going to land on the other bank at a spot much lower down, very different from the one you first thought of. Isn’t being alive dangerous?’
Reig’s two translated novels, Blood on the Saddle and A Pretty Face are set in a waterlogged, semi-buried Madrid in the near future, where his characters literally and figuratively set off in one direction and find themselves somewhere quite different. Perhaps they are to be confronted by a whip-wielding, sex-crazed assassin, or face a dying junkie in the dark confines of an auto graveyard.
A reader, too, never quite knows where they are. What may start off looking rather like a crime novel, morphs into science fiction, spoof or satire with an almost manic dexterity. Refreshingly unconventional, yes, but Reig knits together a (dangerous) reality and tries to explain it. And reality is not simple. Was Don Quixote, Reig asks, ‘a crazy person, a visionary or a wretch? All three, without doubt.’ (Hannah Adcock)
Recommended Reading: A Pretty Face is narrated by the ghost of a murdered woman
13 Aug (with Eugenio Fuentes and José Luis de Juan), 7.30pm, £5 (£3).