The title is misleading, because Memories of Myself (Columna, in Spanish in Destino), the new book by Ferran Torrent (Sedaví, 1951) is not an autobiography, but a novel in which we meet some of his characters in the Valencia of mid sixties and 2019 "to see how both the characters and the city itself have evolved, or evolved".
It is quite a choral work, with several plots and human groups, but backboned by the mythical Regino, a forger who has had his heart stolen. "He's a forger who wants to be a playboy, but the historical context he has to live in makes him practically a hero. In addition to art, he ends up making false documentation for the underground and runs into Nazi loot", explains Torrent, who admits that what the Mític "was looking for was to get rich".
Thus, Torrent introduces us to the world of forgery in two scenarios that were intertwined in late Francoism, on the one hand the world of anti-Francoism and on the other, the art that the Nazis robbed the Jews of and that ends up in the houses of the Valencian potentates. The politico-social brigade also plays an important role, which the writer describes as "very sleazy". "I didn't suffer from it, but some friends did", he says, and remembers that he was only arrested once, by the national police "for putting the name of the town in Valencian on a poster", but he suffered from stomach ache and a medicine, the Tagamet, that helped him get out of it unscathed: "At the police station I said that if they gave me trouble I would vomit blood. They made me sign a paper and that was it. It was already 1976 or 1977, I don't remember, and the police didn't want to get involved."
In any case, in both eras several plots with many characters are developed: "I'm very interested in the secondary ones, because you don't see each other, but they do a lot of work and each one, in their own way, contributes to the novel's arguments apart from the main one". This is also why he runs the narration "in the first person, in the third and there is even a page and a half in the second person", and he has rehearsed the alternation of different dialogues in the same chapter, without prior warning to the reader: " A formula I saw in Vargas Llosa years ago in some novels, and I liked it because it gives fluidity".
It has not been a fast writing for him: "I started it before the pandemic, and I had 50 or 60 sheets of the first part of the painting. But I let it go, thinking we might all die. When it comes back, I don't like it and, convinced to throw it away, I pass it on to a friend. Then I start another one, that of the Mythic Regino, in first person. After a few days, my friend calls me and says that it is very good, that I should continue it. It makes me hesitate. And at the end I decide to merge them and look for a link between one era and the other".
In both, a critical view: "A novelist's view of current affairs is always subjective, and it is still my view, which is a bit sarcastic about Valencian politics". If in other books he focused on the corruption of the PP, here the incapacity of the current government is portrayed, and Torrent justifies it because they have not achieved "neither Valencian civil law nor funding. Even though Valencia is the third largest city in the State, it is the third most poorly financed municipality”. Why do you need to vote for them? "To avoid revolutions", he writes, and adds that the social democrats are "the best managers of capitalism".
Mític's colleagues - the father Rafel, Messié, Llargo, Bohórquez... Marc Sendra - live together in retirement in a residence where they make up the "second system", a network of companies that gives them a problem: "They have too much money and they are looking for the formula to be able to place them without them being a danger after so many years of stealing". They have 300 undocumented workers, and everything is signed "by a gentleman with incipient Alzheimer's", a disease he treats with humor and respect: "My family is devastated by Alzheimer's, my grandmother, my mother and now my sister. I'm never frivolous about any illness, but my family has always taken it with humor. When my sister was diagnosed, we were all worried and she said 'it's Alzheimer's, isn't it?' Because he still has 10 or 15 years to live, which otherwise I don't know if he would have. For me, irony, humor in life and literature are fundamental".