A character in constant movement, with a silent illness that goes against a demanding gender system and roles. Jose Ignacio Carnero he mixes memory and fiction again with his second novel, “Men who walk alone “ (Random House), where he portrays several generations of disoriented young people who struggle to adjust to the chronic instability of the new era.
They usually say that the second novel tends to give a bit of vertigo.
It is true because after the first one there are usually certain expectations. But I think Men Who Walk Alone I have written it naturally. For me, writing is a necessity. So the process has been impulsive. I have not stopped to think of other things.
Had he been brooding over the novel for a long time?
After writing Ama had an idea, but could not find the right voice to tell this story. Then I realized that I could use the same voice as in the first novel, that is, mine.
In this novel he plays with fiction.
In Ama I made a realistic portrait of my mother. The material I used was my memories and the conversations I had with her. In the case of Men who walk alone it was not like that. The autobiographical material has been very important, but there have been other resources that have been key, such as the imagination itself. Once you sit down to write and execute something that you have in your head, everything comes out. Fact and fiction go hand in hand and the challenge is the same. You just have to articulate the words. It is necessary to put an effort, yes, in that the fiction that is used is credible.
Doesn’t the reader ‘buy’ that fiction?
The reader does not buy a tainted truth. Ultimately, the way of narrating is not so different between a fiction book and one based on reality. The challenge is to believe the story that is being told.
In this novel he addresses a taboo such as depression. Doesn’t society just understand this disease? Is it normal to feel guilty about being sad?
He does not quite understand it because it is a silent disease. Leaves no trace. Depression has to do with who we are, with things so intimate that it is normal for everything to remain in that silence. If you are not the person you want to be, if you become someone isolated from society, incapable of producing and having a social life, it is natural to blame yourself. At that point you can become your worst judge. In this society we have to be successful at work, an active social life, consume … The moment we stop doing all that because we are depressed, we think that we are doing something wrong, that it is our fault. Getting rid of that feeling is a long and complicated road.
Is depression a wake-up call for our survival instincts?
That approach is just one edge of the disease. Depression jeopardizes the political function of the individual. The person with depression is not productive and that is a sin in the capitalist world. When you silently stop being efficient, you go against one of the pillars of our system. This is why depression is taboo. The disease is not talked about because having it means being out of the system.
Why does the man in the novel walk alone?
Because he is lost, disoriented. You are looking for the wrong solutions, you approach your problems in the wrong way and you always decide to run away. He is playing a kind of clumsy, almost comical survival. That comes from taboo and silence. If you are not able to explain to others what is happening to you, you have a problem. Second, if a traditional gender role is added to all that, the problem is further aggravated. Men, in general, walk with a gender role that weighs too much. In society, it has always been believed that man should be brave, strong, determined. Without shedding a tear. The image that the character of a man has makes his problems come alive. The assumption of this role is to put gasoline on the fire and go to the wound.
I imagine that the sentimental section does not help. Relationships last less and less, while we keep trying to meet some benchmarks.
Yes. The sentimental thing has been complicated a lot. We really got it wrong. For the first time in history, a few generations have begun to live with instability in all areas. Work, emotional, economic, family … Today almost no one thinks with total certainty that the person they are with is going to last forever. And the same goes for work. There are many social and cultural institutions that used to work and were forever and now they are not. I believe that the trend of this liquid world will continue. What happens is that future generations will get used to it. We are still getting used to it. I am not saying that the life that existed before was better, but that it was better in some things.
What ‘tara’ do you find in the life that was before?
Lack of freedom. If they tell you that your partner is for life and that you cannot divorce at any given moment … Asphyxia can be scandalous. We will end up getting along with this new world, but not us, but our grandchildren.
Tinder doesn’t help either.
The application has not created a new way of relating. That was already there before, the only thing this tool has done has been to accelerate a new way of dating online. If the institution of marriage were as strong as before, Tinder would be meaningless. People have taken on this new mechanic to flirt with an astonishing naturalness. That’s because there was already a breeding ground. The change had already occurred.
Our way of consuming has already entered our most intimate sphere. Love.
Exactly. The system works like this. There was a market niche, and a company has taken advantage of it.
He wrote the novel before the pandemic. Do you think he would have told something similar now?
I couldn’t have written it. Impossible. The character in the novel, who has a lot to do with me, travels a lot. Live in a world that does not exist today. That movement is a kind of safety valve, because he really is paralyzed and disoriented. He moves around the world to get away from something. I don’t know how the character would react in this “new normal,” but I know that whoever reads the novel now, during the pandemic, will empathize much more with what happens to the character. A year ago, this character would seem an exception to us and today, we share his anxiety. The pandemic is what has made it possible.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.