Inés Martin Rodrigo, The forms of cravingDestiny Editions, 2022, 329 pages, ISBN 9788423360895
André Malraux said that death is important only because it makes us reflect on the value of life. Writer and journalist Inés Martín Rodrigo, wins the 2022 Nadal Prize for her novel The forms of desire, can subscribe to French intellectual words. Even if he started writing the story in 2019, its origins began with the death of his mother 25 years ago. Memory, love and literature are the main themes of Martín Rodrigo’s first work: a writing that penetrates into the infinite faces that love can make, a look at the past as an exercise in understanding itself, but also an ode to literature as a refuge. and in the process of writing as redemption. Like Alice crossing the mirror, Inés Martín Rodrigo goes beyond her work as a journalist to pursue fiction and offers us a picture of the countless faces of love, where contradictions and doubts accompany characters.
The forms of craving tells the story of Noray’s family, a woman in the midst of an existential crisis who is hit at the bottom when grandparents Carmen and Tomás die unexpectedly. After the funeral, with unbearable grief and many questions plaguing him, the protagonist decides to lock himself in the family home in the village, the very place where he grew up and where he was taught in many ways. life. Far from everything, but in the epicenter of his childhood, in the very place where he became an adult, he turned to writing and decided to tackle the project he had rejected for many years: a novel that tells the story of its roots.
The novel begins with Ishmael, the character in which, as we will learn later, Noray believes he has found the love of his life. Estrella, Ishmael’s wife, did not understand why he remained close to this woman. The beginning of the story describes what we see later: a boiling melted pot of characters trying to reconcile their contradictions, their obsessions, their feelings, and who above all desires. to find a violation that helps to reflect on all of these problems. . Ishmael, one of the main characters, finds this in reading Noray’s novel that he doesn’t know. The process of writing Noray’s novel is relevant today; a gift that Noray was living under sedation, in the hospital, after trying to end his life. Ishmael will suffer reading the manuscript, but it will also open up new perspectives for him. He will wonder if it is too late or not to regain control of the present and his love for the girl. He would even come to his own martyrdom by wondering if he hadn’t left him to his fate before, by not having done so.
In this scenario, a calmed woman in a hospital room and a married man reading his story, Martín Rodrigo mixes up the family history of Noray and Spain and thus shows the period from civil war until the consolidation of democracy. The hero will retrace the lives of his loved ones, crossing them with his own fears and ghosts, to the question we will ask ourselves at some point in our lives: who am I really, where am i from what is my true self?
The structure of the novel is original to say the least. Like the Russian dolls, there are many novels in one: as Ishmael reads the young woman’s family history, in the same hospital room where he lies, he picks up the pieces and learns to understand her. . Love can be seen there composed as it is the ideal of romantic and definitive love, almost unresolved, even if it is crossed by a thousand cracks and a distance that is probably nothing but a lack of communication or understanding. between the two. It’s one of the great strengths of The forms of craving : the written words are seen as a refuge, the writing as a buoy which one can hold when all is dark. In this hospital room 205 explaining the meaning of their entire relationship, Ishmael says to Noray: “I love you with all my soul, and in a way that I did not understand before reading your words, all your words. »
The unnamed does not exist, and this is the precise purpose for which the novel is constructed. An important and admirable characteristic of the work is not only the love of the people themselves, but also the love of teaching and the role of teachers, which is embodied especially in the character of Filomena. The love of literature that connects people and the love of the writing process that helps to better understand oneself and communicate with others. For this, Martín Rodrigo drew a sentimental geographical map.
In this map drawn by the author, we witness a journey into the past that has come to the present, with flashbacks that take us back in time and then back to the hospital room where Ishmael continues to read with us the novel. of the young woman. . The rhythm doesn’t stop at nearly 400 pages, where we are presented with the fears within the protagonist and where we solve the stories of the many characters that pass our eyes. And these are two of the big keys to the story that Martín Rodrigo built: the naturalness and originality of the way he approaches themes and puts them on paper, but also the ability to create this whirlwind of characters – primary and secondary. – with their own fears, their own desires and their infinite emotional depths, so that we can understand, with Noray, that, among the many ways of loving, the best is to be faithful to self.
Noray’s learning process is based, in large part, on the memory of her grandmother Carmen and the legacy she left her. It will be interesting to see how the writer expresses the garment of thorns that can be attached to the memory: to what extent is everything Noray remembers true, or even more crossed by the many interpretations of the young woman herself? How faithful are the memories of the past? With the character of the grandmother, Carmen, a woman who survived the civil war and the post-war period, not only did these questions arise, but also the power of memory as a lesson, and above all the amount of support between. women. This brotherhood is crystallized especially in the relationship between Carmen and her inseparable friends -Margarita, Filomena and Mari -, which consists of close intimacy, boundless presence with others. We slide here to another strong point in the novel, which makes it singular: the respect of all colleagues who have no possibility of studying and developing their important concerns, which perpetuates their life as long as possible. raising families in a devastated country.
The recent history of Spain is in many ways the backbone of the novel. First of all, in the way it describes the lives wiped out by the dictatorship, as in the case of Tomás and Carmen, who had to migrate to Madrid to find a living and follow their aspirations, and in the way it was the civil conflict and the post -war period conditioned on infinite forms of love. One of the key points of the novel is proper love in all its aspects, not only the kind and romantic love embodied by grandparents, but also family love, such as a grandmother’s love for her grandchildren or of the Tomás brothers. and Sixto, separated by a war that puts them on different sides, or even the unconditional love that unites Noray to Martha.
It is said that the future has an old heart, and perhaps that is why the protagonist decided to present us with a lot of broad love, from his family and those close to him, to understand himself. Each story is specific, and thanks to each of them we can understand different forms of love, for example, through the story of Trini and Blanca, two women who love each other as much as they can. despite the circumstances, at a time when none. accept diversity as it does today. We also meet Manolín, who is not in the step of the times he should have lived, or the relationship between Olivia and Alberto, who doesn’t know how to love each other in the usual mold, as they were taught. All the characters seem to live within the boundaries of society, avoiding reality in their own way, trying to adapt to circumstances and cope as best they can.
After all, the end is a hymn of hope. Ishmael cried and lay next to Noray in the hospital room and, like the metaphor of the beginning of another life, the dawn of the room. One particular move, in the final scene, opens the way to the future: the protagonist shakes hands with the man she considers the love of her life and smiles back at him, but does not mention a future together. “And now? He asked her.” Now I just want to rest, “he said. The final sentence revealed that Ishmael would be a father with his wife Estrella, and that Noray would open up, like a timeless novel. , the possibility of another life, in a window that opens to let in fresh air, a new look.