Original language: gallego
Original title: In the wild companion
Translation: Manuel Rivas
Year of publication: 1994
Valuation: Highly recommended
(Note: I have read this book in the original Galician, so I cannot comment on the translation).
Manuel Rivas is an author well known to the general public: in the 90s a couple of films were made based on his stories that enjoyed great success with critics and the public and brought him fame beyond the Galician borders. A curious fact is that he is perhaps best known today for being the father of actor Martiño Rivas, the protagonist of a television series in which he plays another well-known porn actor. Life is so.
To the point: In this book, one of his first novels, Rivas shows off and honors being able to boast of being the legitimate heir of the magical narrative of the Marline by Álvaro Cunqueiro. It immerses us in a Galicia full of magical realism, where reality and fantasy mix naturally, leading to a dreamlike world, extremely beautiful and full of life, where people do not disappear when they die but are reborn reincarnated as animals and enjoy a new life. more primitive (logically), wilder, but also enjoyable, also putting some mythology and history of Galicia into the narrative mix.
Very curious characters, also a mix of reality and fantasy, take us through a double story where the animals (previous inhabitants of the town of Arán, who cannot go to heaven or hell due to an admonition from the priest) serve as exceptional witnesses, with the crow Toimil telling the King about the adventures and misfortunes of the Aranenses (is this the correct name? I just made it up?), intervening in their destinies and directing the town from above.
A more tender part, where the leading role falls on Simón and Misia, each on their own, more magical beings and absorbed in their own world, contrasts with the dirtier and more realistic side of Rosa and her family. Emigration, the resignation of what could not have been and was not, as well as nostalgia, are the backdrop to the narrative.
I must say that this criticism is the result of a rereading: although I had already read this book years ago, I had not known how to enjoy it properly (perhaps because of the moment, perhaps because of my youth) and a bitter aftertaste had remained in my memory. Over time I read more of Rivas’s work, both before and after this book, and I was encouraged again by this novel: it has been very worth it, becoming my favorite book by this writer. And he has very good ones. For my taste, it is in this novel where Manuel Rivas reaches his highest literary level: for his part we can always count on a good metaphor, with very well-crafted and timely styles, with a precious but effective style: it does not become entrenched in flourishes, but that advances in the delivery of information. Perhaps this is the trait I like most about his writing.
With Manuel Rivas we can always count on a very high level in general, but in this book he was sweet. I confirm my statement, it is my favorite book by him.
He has a very own way of writing, with very long sections without using periods, simply separating the information using commas, without respite, with a great sense of structure and rhythm, in the style of Vargas Llosa in Los Cachorros, or so many other authors who used and will use that resource before and after him, as for example I am doing right now in this paragraph. But in the case of Rivas they are much longer still, entire pages. And one reads them without realizing it, they pass like water.
This is a risky resource but one that the author masters perfectly, resulting in a narrative speed that turns reading into a light and very enjoyable flow.
In short, highly recommended.
All the books by Manuel Rivas reviewed in the ULAD here.