Sunday, June 20

‘The extraordinary years’: Rodrigo Cortés novels the nonsense of the 20th century | Culture

Rodrigo Cortés, pictured on Monday in a Madrid hotel.
Rodrigo Cortés, pictured on Monday in a Madrid hotel.Andrea Comas

From two to 32 years old, Rodrigo Cortés (Pazos Hermos, Ourense, 48 years old) lived in Salamanca. Growing up there may have added to the richness and accuracy of your Spanish. He is one of the Spanish filmmakers who speaks the best, and he maintains that oral capacity in his writings: both those of a more rectangular shape at Din A4 size (his scripts), and those published in squares (his books on anti-aphorisms, short stories and tweets. At 3 it’s 2 Y Sleeping is ducks). And there is a third courteous writer, the novelist, rectangular, of course, but manageable in size: he debuted in 2014 with It does matter how a man sinks and now publish The extraordinary years (Random House Literature), whose promotion coincides with the end of the sound mixes of The joke, his contribution to the new version of the series Stories to not sleep. Coda is the Cortés who publishes in the newspaper Abc… so, indeed, the filmmaker is not bored.

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On The extraordinary years Cortés bears testimony to the memoirs of Jaime Fanjul Andueza (“A little exemplary guy, he is not edifying, even sometimes irritates”, argues his creator), who was born in Salamanca in 1902 and who goes through life without learning from her and without give importance to nothing, not even to the events that take place: the arrival of the sea in the city, the advent of cars driven by thought, the civil war in Spain “against Alicante”, the pirates who boarded ships to give the reason, the change of location of Paris in 1940, a Spain that changes its form of Government (from Republic to Monarchy) from time to time and in an agreed manner … Fanjul, an unrepentant traveler through real countries and invented lands, becomes in the hands of his creator in a stroller through a world full of nonsense, which he crosses on his way with all kinds of strange characters (the brave nuns who fight with a clean fist), couples and jobs (he succeeds with a workshop to spoil things or with his own way ular to read the future in the letters). “I have written something foolish, free, without stopping to think if that is fashionable, with a poetic breath that comes from the same language,” says Cortés.

Halfway between Valle-Inclán, Jonathan Swift, Edgar Neville and Enrique Jardiel Poncela, The extraordinary years is born from all of them and from a week of high voltage, says its author: “I was riding Blackwood [que se estrenó en 2018], and in a moment of tension with the producers, also pressured by the speed of the edition, a work to which I dedicated about 16 hours a day, I wrote 30,000 words in the week of more pressure, a third of the draft. Even today I don’t know how I did it. Yes, why: as an unconscious impulse to vindicate creative freedom ”. And he says that he later rewrote a lot, in what became “the most beautiful part” of the process. “There you remove, you press the powder, you achieve density.”

“The filmmaker’s job is that of agreed deception, like sleight of hand”

Cortés rejects that Fanjul’s opinions are his – “I anticipate that I do not resemble Jaime and that I have attributed opposite thoughts to mine” – but he stops to reflect on some such as: “Failure, our sacred destiny. I firmly believe in error. In stubbornness. I think a man is only if he makes the wrong decisions. I have been wrong many times, knowing that I did it almost always ”. “Ah”, responds the aforementioned, “in that yes I am reflected. Fear helps me to make decisions, knowing that something is not exactly a good idea … Even the intuition that it may be a bad idea. I jump in. ” Another that defines the time that Fanjul makes a living as a journalist: “As a chronicler, I lied as much as I knew and misrepresented as much as I could.” Actually, that is being a filmmaker: “Indeed, because our work is that of agreed deception, like that of sleight of hand.”

A buñuelian start

Regarding the aforementioned influences, Cortés points out: “I have detected them in the aftermath. I am not original either. If you write an invented biography, you end up in the Marco Polo created by Italo Calvino or in a Swift book. Or you connect with our picaresque, with the Lazarillo, and more with a character that was born on the banks of the Tormes. In fact, my first impulse was to let myself be guided by My last breath Buñuel’s memoirs which were later reconditioned by Jean-Claude Carrière; That was born out of laziness, because it allowed us to establish a mixed bag where everything was possible, without structure. In the end none of that worked for me, because I ended up narrating chronologically ”. But something remains in his book: “I have fed on the creative engine of the surrealists, who abandon all allegorical or symbolic temptations to embrace images, irrational ideas that paradoxically allow eloquent messages to emerge”.

“I have fed on the creative engine of the surrealists, which abandons any allegorical or symbolic temptation to embrace images”

Despite the above, Cortés throws hooks that hook the narrative with the authentic story: there is a civil war, a Second World War, an American trip to the Moon, although they do not resemble what really happened. “I follow reality by way of service,” explains the novelist. “It is not our world, but we travel five feet from it. On the other hand, exaggerating our reality allows us to see it better. We bend the rules, even the physical ones, but never too much. It is an almost supernatural novel ”. And that makes it reflect some hidden dream of the author; As a child, did you want Salamanca to have had the sea? “No,” and laughs. “What’s more, it would be a bad idea, it would change its entire constitution and its landscape … I don’t know if the stones would hold it.”

Towards the middle of the narrative, in The extraordinary years melancholic airs enter. On those pages you can read: “There are people who touch you gently and, without you realizing it, forever alter the direction of your life” or “You Spaniards, ‘he told me,’ are always in trouble. They live in trouble. He realizes?”. Cortés also believes it: “The novel starts without a compass, every day the character told me about his journey … However, for me it is natural to freeze a laugh at a given moment or the opposite, to reach deep areas and just before be solemn drop a bomb so that everything is shattered. I would say that also happens in my cinema. Those constant contrasts are part of how I see life ”.

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