Cosas Que Leo #101: KING DIDO, Alexander Baron

“He hurried out down the steps, and into City Road, walking towards Old Street. He walked faster and faster like a fugitive. He was running away from the thought of his own cowardice and he raged against it. He made excuses; he had been caught unprepared, he had not thought quickly enough. The rage still choked. Of course he was a coward, otherwise he would go back now. But he could not go back to stand in that corridor while a crowd of women swept round him. He could not risk the peeps and the whispers and the giggles. Suppose she came out arm-in-arm with her friends and they giggled to her about him? She would be ashamed or would even laugh at him.

Rage became shame and shame became a greater rage, sometimes against the cause of it all, the girl. He was in Commercial Street and he turned left into the maze of dirty alleys that led to Brick Lane and Rabbit Marsh. Light and discordant song came from the pubs. Outside the doors clusters of children waited in silence for their parents; pallid, ragged creatures.”

King Dido

ALEXANDER BARON

Five Leaves Publications, 2019 (publicado originalmente en 1969)

Prólogo de Ken Worpole

354 págs.

Cosas Que Leo #64: EL ENFERMERO DE LENIN, Valentín Roma

“Desde mi otro pueblo me llega una invitación para encontrarnos, una cena para celebrar que ya somos cuarentones o que la clase de octavo fue “la más especial”. No puedo asistir porque estoy aquí, cuidando de Lenin o participando de su locura, ya veremos cómo termina esto.

De todas formas sé que el objetivo de la fiesta es otro bien distinto, la intención es que se cumpla, de nuevo, la ceremonia escatológica de las jerarquías, la misma crueldad de hace treinta años entre guapos y feos, rejuvenecidos contra los que sí envejecieron, triunfadores frente a quienes siguen recordando, persistentemente, esa misma anécdota obscena y sin importancia. Nadie dice que crecimos transportando una rabia triste, improductiva y de enorme fragilidad, cierta clase de rebeldía que se adelantaba ante cualquier situación o que clausuraba todos los propósitos, siempre pendiente de subyugarse ante las imposiciones venidas desde arriba. Aún hoy se observa dónde y por qué cada uno de nosotros tuvo que sortear esa ira soldada a nuestra forma de vivir, como si solo pudiésemos hablar, trabajar o valorar el mundo cuando la apartamos por unos momentos, como si el primer gesto de apreciación de las cosas fuese otra nueva bofetada que debe quitarse la cólera de encima para comprender algo.

Creo que nunca nos hemos insubordinado contra la autoridad, mucho menos quienes hicimos “nuestro camino” lejos de las familias, los que estudiamos en las universidades y sostenemos algunos maximalismos, ésos somos los más sumisos, los más charlatanes; ésos somos quienes dedicamos nuestros mayores esfuerzos a limpiar pequeños huecos de violencia para dejar de ser violentos, siempre caídos en falta, culpables ante casi todo, compensando nuestra furia con un aferrarse al placer, la tendencia a utilizarlo cada día como moneda de cambio.

Nosotros sí que temíamos los valores de nuestros padres, a pesar de que admirábamos a las personas que los encarnaban. Fuimos educados para la nostalgia sin tener una memoria que respetar. Éramos el inicio y la expresión de un tiempo, sus inmolaciones y sus figuras retóricas, pero ni siquiera quedó un nombre vacante para definirnos, sólo ciertos adjetivos, aunque bien mirado esa falta de terminología nos mordió las pantorrillas, invitándonos a correr desordenadamente hacia todas partes.

No puedo asistir a la exhumación del tótem de la melancolía, siendo yo uno de sus principales valedores, uno de sus sacerdotes más locuaces. Sin embargo, lo único que ahora me preocupa es la excusa que daré, cómo ausentarse de la clase de octavo “más divertida” sin parecer un cretino o un pretencioso. Siempre pensando en las opiniones de los demás.”

El enfermero de Lenin

VALENTÍN ROMA

Periférica, 2017

267 págs.

**** Valentín Roma es uno de mis (pocos, raros) escritores españoles predilectos. Siempre leeré todo lo que escriba.

Cosas Que Leo #51: WAKE IN FRIGHT, Kenneth Cook

“Two beers slowed down the benzedrine-inspired drumming in his body.

Three beers and his head was clearing, and then came the need for a cigarette.

‘Anybody got a cigarette?’

‘Sorry, I don’t smoke,’ said Joe.

‘Nor do I,’ said Dick.

Tydon took out his pouch and handed it to Grant.

Grant wished he hadn’t raised the question; he would give up smoking rather than ask Tydon for another cigarette, or anything else. He hated Tydon, he realised, with a clear, hard hatred.

Still, the tobacco was good.

Joe said to the publican:‘Give us a packet of Craven A, mate.’

The publican handed the cigarettes to Joe and Joe slapped them on the bar in front of Grant.

‘Here y’are, mate. I used to smoke, I know what it’s like to be without ’em.’

‘Look, really—thanks very much, but…I mean…’ Grant laughed foolishly.

‘Take ’em, John. Go on, mate, a few bob’s nothing to me.’

‘But I…’ but what could he do? ‘Well, thanks very much.’

‘Forget it.’

Tydon did not make any attempt to buy beer, and it did not seem to enter the miners’ heads that he should. They took it in turns to order the rounds of four.

Four beers and a man’s troubles appear not as grave as they did before he had one beer. But a man could still rather regret that he had no money, and a man could feel sick at being given a packet of cigarettes.

Grant made a fairly serious attempt to buy the fifth round, but Joe, helped by Dick this time, brushed him aside.

‘Well, I’ll tell you what—as soon as I get some money you must let me take you on a bash.’That sounded banal even as he said it.

‘That’s all right, John, don’t worry about it.’

Five beers and a man begins to rather like his companions, except for Tydon.Tydon was a rat of the first water. It was remarkable that two men like the miners would associate with him.With all their faults they were men, and Tydon was a twisted, revolting creature.

 ‘Have you always been a miner, Joe?’

‘No, John, only since the war. Me and Dick drifted in here together and liked it, so we stuck.’

‘What did you do before the war?’

‘Boxed.’

‘Boxed?’

‘Yeah, boxed.’

‘You mean fought professionally?’

‘Yeah. Can’t you see our noses been broken?’

‘No. I hadn’t noticed.’

‘Well they have, both of them.’

Joe and Dick were so alike to Grant that he kept confusing them. They corrected him gently and good-humouredly.

‘No, I’m Dick.’

‘No, he’s Joe.’

‘You know, I used to do a bit of boxing.’

‘Did you, eh, John? Pro?’

‘Oh no, just amateur.’

‘What class?’

‘Welter—it was a few years ago, mind you.’

‘We were light-heavy. It’s a mug’s game though, bein’ a pro.’

Seven or eight or nine beers and a man is in control of himself and his destiny, no matter how bad a hangover he had when he woke up.

To round things off Joe and Dick and Tydon had a double whisky followed quickly by another beer. Grant baulked at this, but he had a final beer, to keep them company.

Then Joe—or was it Dick?—bought a couple of dozen bottles of beer and two bottles of whisky.

‘We might need a drink before we finish.’

And so they went out into the night to shoot.”

Wake in fright

KENNETH COOK

Text Publishing, 2009 (publicado originalmente en 1961)

212 págs.

**** Este libro es una relectura. Wake in fright es un favorito personal, podría haberlo releido por gusto pero lo hice porque dos editoriales me encargaron un prólogo para la traducción, que se publicará en breve en castellano y catalán. Cuando estén disponibles en librerías se lo recomendaré con gran vehemencia.