What if he didn’t narrate?

Por: Daniel Céspedes

Con hambre y sin dinero

I presume that Ena Lucía Portela’s lightheartedness or irreverence corresponds to her indispensable sense of humor. I recognize with her, indeed, that for this “to be really effective, it must always have a not laughable background. The joke, in other words, is a very serious thing, whether it’s white, green, black or paint.” Here, there is no intention of the author to create concepts or undertake theories. After the appointment and even before, nothing like that: Hungry and without money (Unión Editions, 2017) is, of those published in a long time in Cuba, one of the least smug analytical compilations.
This volume of chronicles, articles, reviews and essays could be considered a diversion of thematic interests in the work of the Portela. But, if we attend to the date of publication of the texts, there has been an valorative will equivalent to the vocation of narrator, as Daniel Díaz Mantilla acknowledges in the proemio of Hunger… neither deviation of thematic interests, nor abandonment of vocation or ideoesthetics. The novelist of The Shadow of the Walker and One Hundred Bottles on the Wall reveals a boldness unusual for her colloquial demand and critical candor that does not come to decline in her reflective pieces. Quite the opposite. We witness the consequences of those who, knowing the routines of storytelling, take advantage of them when it comes to opinion. Hence these narrated essays or memoirs that subviert the chronological order of the strictest chronicle. The author also does not forget that thematic seduction benefits from tonal amenity.
That is not boring to grab the reader and surprise him with those intimate experiences ranging from the reaffirmations of the self to the intellectual occurrences by books read and now commented on. Her pleasure in confessing why she likes a book or its author or not is of a simulated innocence only discovered by the rascality of expression. Read if not “An Hour Before the Soul” about the enthusiastic Sherezade.
Portela, almost always through Cubanisms, challenges the topics addressed without detract from seriousness and couplings of references. His thing is to speak away (non-no) from academic pedantry. In Hunger and Without Money there is a commitment to describe and project the particularities of the Cuban with the challenges that raw daily life admits. Even in a disconcerting text by very foreign theme in its entirety and “late” canonical form as “No one insulted me with impunity” we distinguish the gaze of those who, the sea of spicy, affiliated the native landscape with the world concert because “nothing like controversy, debate or even mere dialogue, to wear down energy and hinder the movements of those who have to face a monolithic and irreducible body. I mean, someone more powerful.” Oh, that dates back to 2001 and seems written very recently.
In Ena Lucía Portela everything is worth but from the solidity of the daily discourse of this land. Writing success is further purified when its prose hands over all possible surfaces and ligaments of the cultural: person and city, person and history, reading and writing. Can anything else be said about Hunger and No Money? Of course. But I recap with a quote from Oscar Wilde: “The books are either right or wrongly written. That’s all.” Ω

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