My father’s family and the construction of the city in the Reading Club

One of the most habitual ways of thinking about a work or about an author is to link them to their surroundings, something which often ends up being a reflection about the city in which these works were produced.  It’s not a triviality, modern art has shown itself to be inseparable from the fate of its cities, be it Paris, or New York, or….  But, what are we saying when we say city?  Are we merely referring to an organisation of spaces and areas? Or, rather, are we pointing towards a secret emotional mapping? To what extent is a city made up of words – said, listened, repeated, and not the type of places that fill the guidebooks?

For the second session of the Reading Club we were lucky to count on the illuminating presence of Lolita Bosch, the novel of whom –La família del meu pare (My father’s family) is proposed, amongst many other things, as a reflection of the way a city is constructed and the way we enter her story, which, by definition, is always in progress.

In the case of the novel, the history of the city, at the same time, is that of her own family, that are claimed to be inseparable: in the case of the narrator, the city is the family.  Knowing one is therefore the way of knowing the other, something which ends up requiring the protagonist to take a double archeological look: which retrieves the memory of the monuments (the words of the stone, so to say), and that which takes a deeper look, through interviews, conversations and readings, into the family silences, characteristically feminine, about which the masculine word has been raised.  This masculine word is that of the family myth; the feminine one, on the other hand, is that of its truth.

Tibidabo Amusement Park

Talking of this relation between myth – official, public, aristocratic, and the intra-historical truth, intimate, silenced, the author referred to an idea of literature as a miracle (that is to say, to that inexplicable capacity that literature has of constructing a small world infinitely more comprehensible than the world itself; the capacity, she says, of opposing an explained city, in which it is possible for us to live, in the effective city, which doesn’t have any sense). This is where this third city of the narrator appears: the imagined city – and narrated – by a seductive father similar to the one who appears in the Big Fish (2003), by Tim Burton; a city in which the Via Laietana belongs to Caesar, and in which the distinction between fact and possibility becomes blurred in favour of aesthetics.  If you wish, in which the idiocy of the stone gives up its place to the beauty -and to the meaning- of myth.

Model of the Ictíneo II submarine designed by Narcís Monturiol

La família del meu pare places itself in the distance between one and the other, in order to reappropiate its own story. Probably, because it’s also in this space where we find the truth of the whole family, of the whole city.

Borja Bagunyà

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