Correr tras el viento: la reseña desde UMass

El profesor de la Universidad de Massachusetts en Amherst, Daniel Nevarez Araujo, escribió un ensayo sobre Correr tras el viento para la revista Sargasso, cuyo editor es Don Walicek, y cuyo próximo volumen saldrá seguramente a inicios del año entrante. El doctor Nevarez ha tenido la gentileza de hacerme llegar, coda a su escrito, una reseña de mi novela. Para enterarnos de lo que dice Nevarez en su ensayo, tendremos que esperar; la reseña, sin embargo, se consigna aquí:

»In Elidio La Torre Lagares’ latest novel Correr tras el viento, an ex-convict by the name of Brad Molloy opens a shop which serves as the ideal front to what is actually the business’ true purpose: the sale of aphrodisiac-spiked chocolate truffles known as San Juan Sour. One day, while longing for his lost love, the elusive Aura Lee, Molloy’s newfound stability is shaken when an unknown man who walks into the shop dies of a overdose from one of Molloy’s chocolates. Soon we learn that the case the man died clutching carries a valuable Stradivarius many are after. Amidst all the threats, proposals, and acts of violence that follow, Molloy finds out that one of the players after the violin is Paco Juarez, a illicit arts dealer who happens to be Aura Lee’s current husband. Finding himself with renewed access to Aura Lee, Molloy pulls all the strings necessary to reclaim Aura Lee and get out of his illicit ways for good.

His first novel since 2004’s Gracia, Correr tras el viento exhibits a more straightforward mode of telling. While both stories could seemingly inhabit the same Puerto Rican milieu at a same moment in time, their concerns are markedly different. Gracia was all about the battle of and for faith; now in Correr tras el viento, the story has moved into an existential plain beyond the possibility of a god, forcing Molloy to accept his fate in a godless world where even art, as signified by the violin, is empty and commodified. The tone La Torre utilizes in his depiction strikes a balance between the humor found in a Don DeLillo novel and the disillusionment one would find in a Cormac McCarthy work.

The book reads like a work straddling various realms; from the crime fiction of a Chandler, to a narrative style of a Tarantino film put in print, ending at a nexus between the Magical Realism and lo real maravilloso. One can even find a nod to Cervantes in the narrative’s quest-like mode and in Dolo’s Sancho-like interventions. It is these margins and their interconnectedness that give the novel its charm.

La Torre exploits the Puerto Rican political and cultural characteristics at times with great virtuosity, having his characters voice a myriad of preoccupations, one even going as far as calling the island “la isla de desencantos.” La Torre has always found a way to imbue his characters with the capacity to voice the general malaise of the Island’s inhabitants, often times providing the occasional jab at the Island’s colonial status and the identity problems this might carry.

However, that which is the strength of the novel, also becomes its weakness. The straddling of margins, while most of the time effective, often times becomes distracting, as in moments where the narrative voice seems inconsistent. The colloquial speech found in some of the exchanges between the characters sometimes feels out of place, especially when considering that the author has established a particular voice, with characters often quoting Nietszche, Camus, or breaking into French. This shifting speech can have the effect of alienating the reader, causing one not to feel anything for its characters.

Still, Correr tras el viento succeeds in its portrayal of “a myriad of texts converging one with the other, as the juxtaposition of histories that have nothing to do with the other…” (218), but which are playful enough to engage its readers. The ending will surprise those unacquainted with La Torre Lagares, but will elicit a knowing nod from those who know of the writer’s magical tendencies.