‘You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends’. John Dunn, Joan Didion’s husband, died of a heart attack, suddenly and unexpectedly. In fact, the sick one was not John but Quintana, their daughter, who had been in a coma caused by a bad pneumonia. By that that point they didn’t know if Quintana was not going to live, or to die. In the words of her doctor ‘We’re still not sure which way this is going’.
Ernest Hemingway talks in ‘A Moveable Feast’ of when he lost his manuscripts. How painful must have been for a writer that had dedicated his soul and body to give shape to his ideas. We all know how hard it is to lose an important text, but being a young Hemingway, still unsure of his method, without even knowing if that method was reaching its potential and if his lyrics would someday find fame, could have been devastating, as his wife lost his suitcase in a Parisian train station in 1922.
Being creative is like playing hide-and-seek. She runs in every direction, I chase her, with all my speed and my strength. She stops, looks at me an laughs. She disappears. I run again, this time determined to catch her, I find her, and I touch her, yes, I think I just touched her, but when I try to grab her from her muscular arm she scapes and runs again, laughing at me, once again.
It might seem strange to read this book later in life, considering that it is an American classic and it is practically mandatory for a high-schooler in that country to read. It never got my attention, not only because I was not born nor raised in United States, but the previews or an extremely rich party boy were not very attractive. I am also a big fan of Ernest Hemingway. In his book ‘A Moveable Fist’ he documents some encounters with F. Scott Fitzgerald. He was not impressed. He described him as invasive and difficult to be with. They took a trip together to Lyon (France) that was a disaster. Fitzgerald had alcohol related problems and Hemingway used to say that his texts lacked some strength. However, the same Hemingway loved The Great Gatsby and confirmed him that it was the manuscript that was going to make him famous. It was published in 1925.
This review has no spoilers. It is a posthumous honorary review to one of the best Spanish speaking authors that have ever existed!
Because it is not what he says. Although that too. It is more the way he says it. It is the description of the human emotions, that sometimes are so predatory. It is the analogy, the magical idealism, the use of the dialect of those years, the Spanish traditions of the XX Century that we thought were long gone.
If there is something I find difficult is to make a description of myself. For me, the best way is cutting layers from outside into the inside. Let’s see: I think I am an average woman of 1.67 cms high, brown hair and eyes. Nothing much nothing less. However, I was always skinny as an arrow. You must be thinking ‘how lucky is she?’ or ‘yes, now what?’ but be mindful that I was growing up in the 80s in Colombia, the country of the beautiful curvy-perfectly-measured women! So it was not always fun. I should say being all bones and skin brought me trouble at school as a lot of jokes were directed at my appearance -from constant questions about the state of my health to some comparisons at cartoons and so on- so, for the first 18 years of my life, I focused my efforts in trying to enlarge my body.