Les voltes del món by Tuli Márquez (Barcelona, 1962) has a very clear, plastic, film moment, in which the protagonist, Àlex Izquierdo, after bouncing from one bad job to another bad job, he works as a watchman in the Christmas campaign of a department store. Planted there, he sees some friends of his parents and acquaintances from the neighborhood pass by. He also sees, in the colonies section, a colleague from the school, who is now in charge of the Generalitat. The exit alarm goes off: he's getting there. She is Clara Morell, widow of Lluís Rueda, creator and owner of the advertising agency La Fàbrica d'Idees. He had worked there as a creative in the good times of advertising in Barcelona, before, in the first years of the 21st century, companies began to go down the drain, in debt and, finally, replaced by large multinational corporations. To round off the moment, he tells us that Lluís Rueda is dead - he couldn't bear to see his work collapse. The widow has entered the department store with her son, Lluís petit, who was Àlex's intern. He has created an agency called Punt Límit in a location in Poblenou - very different from the agencies of the past that had towers on Avinguda del Tibidabo -. The widow intercedes for the former creative, now vigilante, and Lluís petit tells her to look him up on LinkedIn.
It is a scene that shows very well the art of Tuli Márquez: very believable, realistic, dramatically solvent, serious from a psychological point of view, very fine-tuned when it comes to describing social mobility. His characters suffer and the reader, who believes them, suffers with them. His arguments explain what has happened in Barcelona in the last fifty years, from the abundance of the eighties to the precariousness that has beset some of the heroes of that era.
The novel follows the parallel lives of Àlex and Javi. One, expelled from the world of advertising, has ended up with an 800-euro job in the Civic Centers network of Barcelona City Council. While the other lives his usual life: he is a disc jockey at the Moog on Carrer de l'Arc del Teatre and Sidecar on Plaça Reial. But, of course, he is already fifty years old and the revelry will not last forever. The figure of Javi made me think of a report I read a few days ago about the pioneers of electronic music in France. They find that when they go to clubs and concerts, young people tease them: "What grandfather? Do you know what you came to hear? Let's see if you get hurt!" These pioneers of electronic music who are in their sixties find it unfair and demeaning.
Tuli describes a world of misfits, parked, expelled, mocked, who count for nothing. The people who – in a generation that also gave many cheekbones and licks – decided to live in their air. Without a partner and without children, Àlex was a teenager until the crisis of 2008 expelled him from the labor market. And thanks again that in a time of prosperity it was possible to buy a flat in Gràcia. The meeting with a former classmate, Mònica, and the beginning of a romantic relationship - between one's mastectomy and the other's colonoscopy - introduces a second level of reading. The female characters – the inaccessible companion of the Civic Centre, the tattooed veteran, the women tired of the routine and indolence of men – have just rounded off the story.
Unlike David Castillo or Carlos Zanón, with whom he matches the generational perspective, Tuli (who has worked in the world of television, communication and music) portrays the middle class, who studied at the CIC Cultural Institute - Can Triadú, not at all. Together with L’endemà (2013), about the rock world, and La mida dels nans (2019), which talks about journalism and corruption, Les voltes del món forms an incisive and sensitive triptych about missed opportunities.