Wednesday 15 August Teresa Solana

She’s one of my completist authors, and so there was never any doubt that I’d pass up the chance of attending her event, even if it was scheduled at the ungodly hour of 8:30 pm, meaning a very late tanked-up-on-caffeine drive home for me.

She was worth it though.

Of course, I had devoured her latest release, translated from Catalan by Peter Bush, delighting in revisiting a few stories published a few years ago in e-format only.  Now they’re in hard copy and as funny as they were then.  These are the 4 of the 5 stories in the section Blood, Guts and Love.  The 5th is a previously unpublished story, which strangely enough replaces my favourite story from Crazy Tales of Blood and Guts.  Happy Families is a haunted mansion story, narrated by the family of very posh ghosts.  The house has been uninhabited for some years, because the ghosts have been vetting potential buyers, scaring them off because they have not met their exacting standards. Finally a couple are approved, the purchase is completed, and what happens next is anyone’s guess.  “This story forms the basis of a very good sitcom”, said event chair Daniel Gray.  He is so right!

The second section, the award-winning Connections consists of 8 stories, all quite wickedly interconnected.  Solana wouldn’t reveal the main connection at her event, and so neither will I.  But I will say together they provide a kaleidoscopic view of societal layers in Barcelona.  And as absurd as some of the voices may seem, she did say that the story of the opera-hating woman in I Detest Mozart is historically correct.

Barcelona, Solana’s home city, sparkles in these stories, and so does her sly and subversive wit. How can you not laugh at the thought of a cross-eyed vampire, or snobbish ghosts?  But a seriousness lies beneath the surface.  Firstly her choice to write in Catalan, a language that was forbidden in the days of Franco. Immediately thereafter, Catalan literature was written using highly formal language and style.  Solana is deformalising it by inserting references to popular culture and using a more popular register by giving her characters natural voices.  Pepperings of Franco and political turmoil remain though. “The shadow of Franco persists”, she said. “Particularly in contemporary events in Catalonia.”