Many years of healing burns

Carlota Gurt (Barcelona.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
15 September 2023 Friday 11:05
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Many years of healing burns

Carlota Gurt (Barcelona. 1976) has been one of the literary phenomena in Catalan in recent years. A few weeks after the appearance of her first book of stories, Cavalcarem tota la nit (2020), everyone knew that a new, quality author had appeared, and that she was a tank. That she addressed heartbreak – and the tail: separation – with her own language, with metaphors and landscapes that left you stunned, that she did not marry anyone and that she combined literary intensity with a warrior attitude. Today, if you type “Carlota Gurt” into Google, one of the first entries is an interview with the headline: “Why are there public discourses that say that they don't masturbate so much?” Her having been assistant director of La Fura dels Baus and translating narrative from German complete the portrait of a woman who goes to shock.

Sola (2021) was the second book, a novel from one of those shipments that – you don't know why – lead to works that deal with the same themes coinciding in bookstores: in this case the separation from the world, in a house to write. With Biography of the foc he returns to the story. They have been three profitable years.

At the time of the war, Bartomeu Rosselló-Pòrcel wrote Imitació del foc, one of the great books of poetry in Catalan of the 20th century. An underlying idea is that, in the same way that the poet uses different styles to express his diverse personalities, he uses the symbol of fire to explain different ways of burning. Biography of the foc remembers it because, although Gurt's characteristic way of burning is the fire with large flares, a lot of fuel and explosions, the book includes others: the home of the first weeks with a new partner, the firecrackers of San Juan de los Guys, the flameless fire, covered in ashes, that destroys people, which symbolizes boredom and surrender.

Biography of Foc is a slightly dizzying book. It includes fourteen stories that range from the portrait of a couple's relationship, realistic with symbolic elements, to the abstract and metaphorical story and speculation on a theme: twists and turns about a motif. For example, in the story that closes the volume, Bales de palla, written with two driving ideas: a movie scene – the protagonist's car is behind a truck that loses blades of straw – and a reflection on the mother with Alzheimer's, turned into a mother's skin. On this axis, Gurt plays variations.

In other stories, the metaphorical factor prevails over the realistic plot: in Els meus tancs the girl who is given a toy tank, when she grows up, goes around the world in a battle tank. It is a story about family and the need to toughen up like a rhinoceros, due to the pressures of one another. Sometimes, to talk about the couple's relationship, which is an omnipresent topic, Gurt uses the metaphor of the small floor and bed, relating them to the displacements of geology (Plate Tectonics), he poses the relationship between two cosmonauts (Love) and between a photographer and a diver looking for an anchor (La maquina immensa). Some images – the robin that has fallen in the lanes of the Ronda – are excellent.

It's funny because you think: “the endings don't come out” and on page 186 you find “the endings don't interest me.” You think: “how many cars” and on page 209 you read “Visc in a road-movie”. You think: “what a lot of metaphors”, and one of the characters says: “tinc el cervell podrit de metàfores”. It is a writing with self-awareness.

Gurt does not write rounded stories, everything is a bit irregular and hectic. Biography of FOC is not a refined and compact book. But this is also the charm of it: the passionate and abrupt immediacy, the searching while writing, giving opinions and kicking the reader in the mouth.