Fernando Marías has died, a deeply cultured, generous man, capable of reinventing himself over and over again on all human and cultural levels and, probably, the most cheerful, universal, selfless and creative Bilbao that we have ever known. The writer born 63 years ago was the author of (at least) two memorable novels, essential for anyone who wants to learn from reading and not just be entertained. one was the miraculous light (1992), surprising fiction about a Lorca who would have survived his captors and who fights to make his way into hostile territory. Today these bursts of reinterpretation of the life of authors such as the great Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell (Asteroid Books) or the recently published Melville, by Rodrigo Fresán (Random House Literature). But that little novel by Marías was a foretaste, and a beautiful one, of that freedom of reinvention that he knew how to capture in the national drama that the poet from Granada embodied and that continues to stir up our problem with memory.
And that capacity for reinvention is what marked his life from the abysses of alcohol to his total cure and which he reflected in his second (at least) memorable novel, The world ends every day (2005), a complete nude, an honest, scandalous immersion in the suicidal impulses of addiction capable of dragging down the one you love the most and in the fragile supports on which salvation can be sustained.
There was salvation for Marías, because he left alcohol behind, although he never realized how brittle the will is, because he was a constant militant of water and even beer 0.0 was anathema to him. In addition, he won awards such as Primavera with All love and almost all death, the Nadal with The Boy of the Colonels or the Brief Library with The island of the Father.
I met him at the last Black Week in Gijón, which chartered its own train, an old-fashioned train that slowly meandered from Madrid to the north, without a sad sandwich, with obligatory stops due to the cuts that the miners from León and Asturias staged on those days for some good cause, and all of us who lived through it remember arriving with a hole in the stomach, but new and fun friends. His name will be forever linked to a Black Week (in Gijón) that —with or without its own train— always brought together quality people, like him. Elegant, a great conversationalist and, above all, the owner of a sharp and intelligent humor, Marías was what you saw: one of those people capable of keeping his cool on stage or in the famine of that train with as many stops as those of a Western movie.
De facto feminist, visionary in so many things, cheerful, funny, she never shied away from her literary nudity, crudeness, damage, nor did she make up anything
All the culture that goes with you awaits you here.
And that was precisely another of his passion territories: cinema. He studied it when he arrived in Madrid in 1975 and worked for a long time as a screenwriter, among others of his own the miraculous light, which was made into a film in 2002 under the direction of Miguel Hermoso and was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Goya Awards.
But everything was not enough for his eagerness to experiment and reinvent himself and, in recent years, he jumped into the theater with his own monologues and shared projects, especially with Espido Freire. His work I will die tonight It is another one of those round plots that managed to surprise me every time I saw it, whether it was among good friends at the Granada Noir festival or in a theater in Lavapiés, where it was already premiered on professional circuits and with it we died and were resurrected a thousand times. Without fear and without hesitation he appeared before the public as if he had been acting all his life. And he loved it.
The edition and cultural management were another of its versions, also full of quality. He chose, elaborated and edited with meticulousness Black H (Alrevés), a set of stories written by 22 women and illustrated by as many cartoonists that she amassed with courage and pride when we writers were barely a discussion table to gather around. De facto feminist, visionary in so many things, happy, funny, he never shied away from his literary nudity, crudeness, damage, or made up anything.
count the darkness
“True courage is counting the darkness. I have been living with them for a long time, psychoanalyzing myself and it does not create any trauma for me to admit my alcoholism, because I already got over it a long time ago, ”he told me in 2015 after publishing The island of the Father. “I think that more than freeing myself from modesty to talk about my father, I have freed myself from modesty to talk about myself. It’s like entering the dark areas of myself. I am protected by my father.”
That was one of the two projects that he wanted to undertake in his last years, where he still enjoyed iron health that only went awry a few weeks ago. The other was about the death of his first wife, with whom he shared love and the abyss of alcohol. He wanted to address both deaths—his father’s and his wife’s—and he wanted to do it relentlessly. They say that This book burns edited a few months ago by Alrevés, it is his best book.
And he wrote it without knowing that, after those two deaths, his death was coming. Of that he will not be able to write. He touches us.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.