BarcelonaRodrigo Frizan (Buenos Aires, 1963) says he always writes about the same thing: childhood, memory and literature. An Argentine writer residing in Barcelona, author of books such as History of Argentina (1991), Kensington Gardens in London (2004) ed Melville (2022), highlights his willingness to go beyond the limits of creation. with Elements style (Random House, 2024) does so both in terms of the novel's dimensions (which are over 700 pages) and stylistically and narratively. The book tells the life of Land, a young man who grew up in Argentina in the 1960s and later immigrated to Barcelona. From the beginning, Friesan had already warned: the reading would be complex and dense without giving any relief.
The novel requires a high level of demand and interest from the reader. Why explain it in the first place?
– They may not always be written with such clarity, but often there are books that require a certain amount of care and attention. This is partly so the reader knows whether it suits them or not and can get out of it. I do this in a clear way so as not to deceive anyone. My greatest experiences as a reader have always been complex and extreme, and they are what nourished me the most. I don't think it's a bad thing if the reader is exhausted by the end of the book. If the book requires effort from you, the reader also has the right to demand the same effort from the writer. Reading is complex, and no one has yet been able to explain well how it works neurologically.
The work is complex for the reader. Was this the case for the writer?
— There's an anecdote from Nabokov that explains this before LolitaHis stories were published in The New Yorker. “The story is very good,” the publisher told him, “but it will mean a little work for our readers.” He replied: “It doesn't look bad to me, it took me a lot of work.”
You say in the novel that there are geniuses who sell a little and not geniuses who sell a lot. Can't commercial novels be great?
– There are geniuses who sell a lot too. For me, Stephen King is a genius. The problem is that best seller They are increasingly poorly written. And not only that. The books I read as a child were the same books my grandparents read. Now there is this industry of Young adult And books for children. Treasure Island It's meant to be for kids, but it's also a great novel. You used to jump from Stevenson to Kerouac, to Huxley and Orwell. Now all young adult novels sound the same.
You used to jump from Stevenson to Kerouac, to Huxley and Orwell. Now all young adult novels are the same.
In the novel, you oppose self-fiction, but the story of the Earth is inspired by your story. Is it a fictional autobiography?
– It's like many books that sound good to me David Copperfield by dickens, Martin Eden D. Jack London S In search of lost time From Proust. However, there is a reader who does not know me and for whom everything is fiction. Even readers close to me have told me that the most amazing part is the moment when Land is out of school for two years. This is absolutely true. My parents didn't notice or care if I went to school for two years.
Childhood is one of the main themes of the book.
– Of all the books, actually. Everything happens during childhood, and then life is more or less adult forms of things that happened to you as a child. If the Earth was supposed to inspire me, I ended up being what I wanted to be. That's why I don't think it's a revenge book with the parents, but there's a lot of depression and that's true. My childhood vision is like a Wes Anderson movie: there's nostalgia, but also colors, objects, and cookie fragrance.
The outlook towards parents is harsh: the Earth is often lonely and lives in household chaos that is not conducive to growth. Why are you so critical of your parents?
– It is not a book against parents, but for the benefit of children. My parents' generation went through two important situations that not only excuse them but make them more understandable. They made the mistake of completely separating from their parents' generation, and on top of that, they fell upon the social and cultural class that required them to be the generation that would change everything. They had to create a new order and a new way of understanding humanity, although in the end they did not succeed. It's all difficult.
“Everything happens during childhood, and then life is more or less adult versions of things that happened to you as a child.”
Beyond this generational view, you also paint a cynical and crude picture of intellectuals.
– It's very fertile territory when it comes to laughing at it, but all the characters are archetypes. None of the writers or editors featured are real. The literary world is the only thing that interests me. And I demystify it, yes, but at the same time I also pay tribute to it. It is not an impulse of destruction but of criticism, ridicule and parody. I cannot live without books and everything that surrounds them.
The novel progresses through the land and its somewhat ambiguous memories. Why do you use memory and forgetting as narrative engines for the work?
All my books are about reading, writing, remembering and forgetting. When you remember something, you immediately edit and rewrite it. As Proust says, everything is limited to disturbances of memory and interruptions of the heart. There's nothing more to it than that when it comes to writing.
As Earth remembers, Nomi's ghost has created an epidemic of oblivion across the world. Are you worried about losing your memory?
– no. One of the conditions for staying mentally healthy is to be able to forget certain things, or believe that they happened in a different way. It is not a matter of doing it in a radical way, but with small modifications. I don't write to fix things and I'm not a testimonial writer. Nothing interests me less than searching for the great novel of my time. For me, the act of writing is not to stay, but to leave a little, to escape.
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