A few days ago I presented at Espai Subirachs del Poblenou Desescalades, the last book by Joan Rendé Masdéu, published by Cossetània. It's a scrapbook. For me this is not a flaw at all and I think it shouldn't be for most civilized readers who haven't been through the best seller grinder. Since romanticism, literature – and culture – has incorporated the fragment. In our crumbling and cracked everyday life, the fragment makes much more sense than the sheet, the monument and the tabarra. We all have our heads in pieces and we read in pieces, but the prestige is taken, rather, by the mastodons of culture, the ingots, skyscrapers and pharaonic novels. Sometimes, deservedly so. Rendé's book collects a few stories that could be a novel – in the style of Italo Calvino and Pere Calders – around a man who climbs to live on top of an antenna and from from there he contemplates the things that happen. There is a very funny chapter about the wars between street musicians and another about a plague of wild boars, lighter and more exhilarating than Raül Garrigasait's novel, because in Rendé's text the wild boars take the city and a pig willing to make propaganda in favor of domestication is the candidate for mayor of Barcelona "of the yolk of the egg". Then there is a part, which I really like, of very short stories and at the end a miscellany of varied stories among which stand out an autobiographical narrative and a fable of Voltairean or Swiftian social criticism about a society of ants.
One of my favorite texts is called The Escape. It tells the case of a man who – like Peter Schlemihl from Adelbert von Chamisso’s 1814 novel – loses his shadow. It is placed on the edge of the church and runs out. The shadow does not follow him. And then something formidable happens: it is not the man who creates another shadow, it is the shadow who creates another man! If this story, instead of being written by Rendé, who is an eighty-year-old gentleman with a bow tie, hat and scarf, had been written by a young man with an empire shirt and an earring in his ear, there would be copious urination of water of colony
We had dinner at the Sala Beckett and, at the end, we went for a drink at the Balius cocktail bar on Carrer Pujades. Can Balius was a Poblenou drug store all its life. On the Rambla/Almogàvers it had its mother house: a large hardware store, from when Poblenou was bravely hanging there. Every time I go to the Balius cocktail bar, I have the same fantasy: that there is a strip in space-time through which a wall painter from fifty years ago enters the premises of 2023, so well placed. "Master, where are your paintings?" The Italian waiter would look at the man with the white frog, full of colored lanterns, to rub his hands and brushes with. When the waiter approaches I say: "Boy, today you have a great writer from Poblenou having drinks at your house!". Lluïsa, in Rendé Jr. and Helena Pol applaud. And laughing, laughing, we finish the second negroni.