The problem of bodies | Babelia

I would like you to be a woman, Lázaro ”, Juan tells him, and adventure:“ That way I would be a normal man ”. There is nothing normal in the world of Fury, however: in it, violence is inscribed while desire in bodies that penetrate, crawl, swell in impossible pregnancies, sink in pain, secrete liquids, age , they return on the metal plates of the morgues, they express an animality that crosses time and space. Clyo Mendoza (Oaxaca, 1993) narrates in his first novel the story of the children of Vicente Barrera, the string seller who abandons his family and seduces women who are often still children. Sara, Cástula, Salvador and María, Juan and Lorenzo inhabit circular time and the landscape of myth, in which framework it does not matter if we are in San Luis or Sonora and if the lovers’ war is the Mexican revolution or the so-called ” against the narco ”; What matters is that, at that time and in that landscape, sex is always power and desire is a curse; Against the background of a desert that engulfs people and returns corpses, the characters are condemned, and not only because of the “poison in the eyes” of the thread seller turned into a dog.

The problem with bodies is that they speak and what they tell us is never reassuring or comforting. Fury is part of an extensive series of books whose authors, responding to widespread contemporary concerns and body turn in cultural studies that has led to an increasing recognition of the body as a crossroads between the subject and society, as a significant and meaningful place, they narrate how the latter says where the person who inhabits it is forced to remain silent: to works by Guadalupe Nettel as The host (2006), Petals (2008), The body in which I was born (2011) and The only child (2020); The bodies of summer (2012), by Martín Felipe Castagnet; Eye work (2019), by Mercedes Halfon; The Anatomy Lesson (2008 and 2014) and Clavicle (2017), by Marta Sanz, and other texts (omitted for reasons of space here), including some of the irregular “Latin American Gothic”, have been added these weeks, in addition to Fury, other books in which the body plays a preponderant role, such as Small firewood, by Marta Barrio; The sound of the waves by Margarita García Robayo; Som-hi !, by Inés Marcó, and Three thunders and The drop on the stone, by the Argentine Marina Closs and Mercedes Álvarez.

From Three thunders, Marta Sanz recently stated in this newspaper that her topic is how “bodies transgress the laws imposed on bodies.” Closs’s novel (Aristóbulo del Valle, Misiones, 1990) has as characters three women from different origins and times, a Mbyá Guaraní aborigine who is forced to face rape and forced motherhood and stigma, a young German woman fleeing Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and an arts student who is discovering her sexuality, the three of them rebelling against the damning looks on them in soliloquies that have the power of an electric shock. The three monologues are of different intensity, and the most successful is perhaps the first, which circulates in the orbit of The mountain was so dark, by Natalia Rodríguez Simón (2019); Girl and garbage can, by Grimanesa Lazaro (2021), and Eisejuazby Sara Gallardo.

And then there is The drop on the stone, which might seem like a very different book from the previous ones, but it is not so different: as in them, here the body is a zone of articulation and conflict; in this case, following the loss of a limb. “Doubly prey to lack, without a hand and without a husband”, Sofia, the protagonist, dreams that “I had a beautiful body, and a flower came out of each of my pores […] and the largest flower, the most impressive, came out in the place of the hand that I do not have ”. “You don’t notice the enormous amount of things your left hand does until you stop having it,” he says; there is something of a comedy step in all this (the characters have absurd names, the protagonist orders her lover not to stay in her “sty” “just because I don’t have a hand”, her mother says she doesn’t like spring because ” the blooms are deceptive ”, etcetera), but the novel takes a surprising turn when the voice of Birkin, the surgeon who operates on Sofia and later becomes her lover, breaks in; Birkin has spent some time in Africa escaping from the death of Lucia, there he fell in love with a native and lost a son, who left him immersed in a pain that only managed to anesthetize with submission and abuse and flight. Birkin is a complex character, and not everything that happens to him is plausible, but his pain is plausible, which is a different form of loss than Sofia’s, but no less important.

Mercedes Álvarez (Tandil, 1979) moves between lightness and gravity. Explicitly in The Drop on the Stone, implicitly in Fury and Three Thunderbolts, what the body speaks of in these books is a fault; but, if this is accidental in Álvarez’s novel, in Maldonado and Closs’s (considerably more lyrical, and explicit in a complaint that connects them with Eat dirt, by Dolores Reyes, another novel that makes up this series) is the product of the many ways in which violence is inscribed in the lives of the dispossessed, in Latin America and elsewhere: its omnipresence is paralyzing, its silence is that with which one receives what is considered the natural state of things, but the body, which Camila Sosa Villada defined in The evil ones (2020) as our only true “homeland”, it speaks and finally begins to be heard. It would be worth revisiting the controversy between Michael Sandel and John Rawls to understand the importance of this. For Álvarez, “the great secret that this world holds” is that “people are so afraid of the body as they are of language”.

Cover of 'Furia', by Clyo Mendoza.

Author: Clyo Mendoza.

Editorial: Secrecy, 2021.

Format: soft cover (256 pages, 18 euros).


Author: Marina Closs.

Editorial: Transit, 2021.

Format: soft cover (160 pages, 15.50 euros).

Cover of 'The drop on the stone', by Mercedes Álvarez.

Author: Mercedes Alvarez.

Editorial: Mardulce, 2021.

Format: soft cover (120 pages).

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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