Rafael Reig, novelist: “There are few of us communists, but we have to be there because many people are looking for us” | Culture | EUROtoday

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The writer Rafael Reig photographed on June 11, 2024 at his home in Cercedilla.
The author Rafael Reig photographed on June 11, 2024 at his residence in Cercedilla.Santi Burgos

Rafael Reig (Cangas de Onís, 60 years outdated) factors to the mountains. On the left, La Bola del Mundo, the summit the place the radio and tv repeater antennas put in in 1959 will be seen. One of them seems just like the crimson and white rocket of Tintin on the MoonOn the correct, La Maliciosa, so referred to as due to the problem it presents to mountaineers. Both are over 2,200 metres excessive. Reig watches them from the terrace of the Minerva bar in Cercedilla, the place he drinks a couple of photographs of whisky at noon. He has been on this mountain village for greater than 10 years after fleeing Madrid. It takes an hour and a half by practice from the capital.

“I was very well known in my neighbourhood, Malasaña, but not as a writer, but as a drunk. I couldn’t get home without everyone buying me two whiskeys. So I ended up in a coma,” jokes Reig, who was a daily at literary events and frequented the literary ambiance of the Hotel Kafka writing college, the place he was a outstanding trainer. He needed to cease: he determined to deliver well being to his life, go to the mountains, a spot the place he might breathe recent air and decide mushrooms… “But it didn’t work: now I’m a village drunk.”

It's sunny and Reig welcomes us across the metallic desk together with his most beloved neighbours, the individuals with whom he appears to have an aperitif when there are not any guests, as if we had infiltrated the routine lifetime of the villages. “You scare me, I brought my bodyguard,” he jokes. Around, within the quiet streets, the college kids run round; at weekends this place is full of vacationers who come to do mountain routes within the Sierra de Guadarrama. Indeed, the air is totally different from that of the town: you may let you know're respiration.

“As I am a Marxist, I did a sociological analysis. I wanted to move to the Sierra Ricas: the rich have four cars, but they usually have good public transport connections, so the maid can come,” he explains. He thought of the opportunity of El Escorial, but it surely was too “right-wing”. In Cercedilla there’s a sure left-wing enlightenment root; the Institución Libre de Enseñanza of Francisco Giner de los Ríos had its refuge right here, the place he put into follow his modern (nonetheless at the moment) pedagogical proposals. There can also be a cultural side: names equivalent to Ramón y Cajal, Sorolla and Luis Rosales are related to the city.

The writer Rafael Reig photographed on June 11, 2024 at his home in Cercedilla.
The author Rafael Reig photographed on June 11, 2024 at his residence in Cercedilla.Santi Burgos

In current occasions, Reig has additionally been doing the identical, and at the moment he sports activities a colourful shirt, unkempt hair, a hat and his eternal moustache. He appears comfortable. Upon his arrival within the city, he arrange the Fuenfría bookstore (with an inherited identify), the place an attention-grabbing literary life developed primarily based on discussions, displays or readings of the National episodes Galdós. Writers got here to us. “I have been failing for a long time. I am not failing any better, but it is a failure sustained over time, so I know everyone,” he explains. So he introduced Almudena Grandes (who, by the best way, offers her identify to the city’s public library), Luis García Montero, Isaac Rosa, Luis Landero… “We offered them a room for two and told them that, like in Las Vegas, what happens in Cercedilla stays in Cercedilla,” Reig jokes. After the pandemic, the bookstore closed.

You by no means know when Reig is talking jokingly or severely, maybe as a result of for him there isn’t any notable distinction between one factor and the opposite. When he makes jokes he has the look of a mischievous baby. “Humor is present in my life and, subsidiarily, in my novels,” he says. Although humor isn’t precisely extremely valued in literature. “It is not explained why Spain has given up boasting of what is its greatest contribution to literature. Lazarillohe Quixote“Quevedo, they are funny texts, but in the end the ones who stick out their chests for their humor are the English. Here the serious, the hidden, is valued,” complains Reig.

Spy satire

His new novel, Anything small (Tusquets), is peppered with humour, like everything he writes, but it is a spy novel. A genre, the police one, that Reig has often practised. “The polar [el género policiaco] In France it's like a religion,” he says, “when I published my first crime novel, What is not written [Tusquets]they took me to eight festivals. I thought: with how much I like to travel, I shouldn't write anything else,” he says. But there is not only crime fiction in his bibliography.

For example, your Handbook of literature for cannibals (Debate, 2007) is an unorthodox literary treatise where he turns Quevedo, Larra, Vila-Matas or Eduardo Mendoza into characters. Untimely love (Tusquets, 2020) entered the realm of autofiction to recover episodes of his life with special attention to his literary training and family life. Marilyn Monroe's autobiography (Lengua de Trapo, 1992, now published by Tusquets) lives up to its title. And there are indeed crimes and detectives in two of his most celebrated works, Blood gushing out (2011) y Pretty face (2004), in which he flooded the city of Madrid to turn it into a navigable city like Venice. Both were published by Lengua de Trapo and are now available from Tusquets. Etc.

Reig conceives the crime novel as a new picaresque, but vertical instead of horizontal. “If the guide went out to tour Spain, in the crime novel they do not stop going up and down floors: the city is essential,” he says, though he acknowledges a resurgence of the agricultural crime style, which in Spain already had a pioneer within the policeman Plinio, from the novels by Francisco García Pavón, revealed within the mid-twentieth century, which operated primarily based on detective hunches within the environment of Tomelloso, province of Ciudad Real. Reig's new installment takes place in 1979 within the imaginary nation of Dragonera, a former English colony, later a tax haven, which occupies a big island in entrance of Portugal, as if it have been Atlantis. “It is inspired by Oporto. When I went there I only saw two bars and the hotel, but, even so, I was dazzled by the city. That's what we writers have….”

“As it happens in the late seventies, I didn’t have to learn anything about computers to make a credible plot, and as it is an imaginary country, I didn’t even have to do any research on its history. I became a novelist because I am lazy and I can invent what I don’t know. The protagonist of the novel is also lazy,” says the author. Indeed, Ginés Loyola, also a great fan of whisky, specifically Macallan, is the director of a failing spy office called the Documentation Centre (also Casa Desolada), where a handful of poor devils work. But the slow pace of his activity is disrupted after an attack against the candidate for the presidency of the Government and the discovery of certain compromising information, and thus this caricature of the secret services is set in motion.

Being a writer or writing

One nice thing is that the neighbourhoods and streets in Dragonera are named after poets: Byron, Wordsworth… “Here in Spain, you name a street after Paco Rabal and the PP takes it away. They only want coup plotters: General Sanjurjo, well done!” says the author. He declares himself a communist, with a PCE card, still a believer in the Revolution (even if it is to watch it from home). “There are few of us communists, not well-matched, but we have to be there because there are many people who are looking for us: the unemployed, the young people without jobs, the old people who are left to die in nursing homes. We are the only ones who can give them an answer,” he says.

“When I was young, I didn’t know if I wanted to be a writer or write,” Reig explains. “Being a writer is going to parties, appearing in the press, being asked to do things, being called a writer… But writing is being alone at home in your underwear, hour after hour, page after page.” In the end, although Reig has diligently practiced what they call the literary life (“I wanted to succeed!” he says, whatever that means), it seems that he made up his mind, and, moreover, that he got a taste for it, because he is a prolific writer, who publishes a novel every couple of years. So, he spends a lot of time in his underwear: “I discovered that I was never as happy as when I was alone writing. There are those who will remember their moments of happiness when they went to the amusement park, for me they were when I was alone and could finally write.”

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