It’s 3 a.m., the telephone rings at home. A man is crying at the other end of the line. He mumbles trying to describe his emotions, his outrage at the betrayal he just witnessed. I comfort him, I remind him we’re talking about a character. He insists, it takes him quite a while to calm down, he vents his anger against common folk, those who don’t understand what is different. I can’t get him to calm down, worse still, he cuts off; afraid that the worst might happen, I change and set out for his house. Nothing like this has ever happened before or since. The party responsible for my friend’s outburst is the novel written by Guillermo Martínez “Acerca de Roderer”/”About Roderer”.
The excuse for naming Martínez is the publication of his new book: “La muerte lenta de Luciana B.”/”The Slow Death of Luciana B.”. The formerly promising young writer has become a talented figure of his generation, who will likely join the ranks of top writers in Argentine Literature. To put it plainly: Martínez is going through an amazing stage in his life. Literary critics are already busy with this writer, who has the rare privilege of enjoying both favorable criticisms and high sales volume. Martínez can even toy with the idea that a story of his could eventually become a movie directed by some well-known director of international fame. Such was the case of his previous novel “Crímenes Imperceptibles”/”Imperceptible Crimes” recently released in movie theaters worldwide under the name “The Oxford Murders”, directed by Alex de la Iglesia and with John Hurt and Elija Wood as leading actors.
In his latest novel, Martínez combines death with the world of writers and the hovering presence of diabolic elements, core topics in his previous novels. Martínez not only writes clear-cut plots in a sober language with an eye for detail, he also describes conflicts in each of his stories that express the basic doubts and issues that are inherent to human nature.
Still, as we always say, a book is not what it is but what it does to you. And in this case, in my case, the gut effect is caused by “Acerca de Roderer”. Undoubtedly the author is talented enough to write as many successful novels as he wishes, but there is a plus in “Acerca de Roderer”: the all-or-nothing attitudes of the main characters in search of that sacred chalice that cannot be seen nor touched and whose presence can only be sensed by a few chosen ones.
“Acerca de Roderer” stopped me from writing for a long period, because I considered I could never achieve anything like it. “Acerca de Roderer” induced me to break up with a girl who admitted she didn’t like the book; that relationship was already approaching its shaky end.
“Acerca de Roderer” was the reason for the outburst of my friend whom I had to rescue in the middle of the night. I found him sitting in the dark in the park in front of his house. He was slowly swaying on a swing. I ask him if he’s feeling okay, though I know what the answer will be. He remains silent. We both remain silent, I’m also swaying on the swing. I see the book lying on the sand, under his feet. I bend over to pick it up and my friend breaks down sobbing. I hold him tight, he asks why, why does it have to be like this. I say I don’t know. Thanks for Roderer, he whispers over my shoulder. I hug him very tight, all the time holding the book and knowing we will remain like this for a long time.
Reading any of Martínez’s books will be a gratifying experience. But for my emotional memory Martínez will always be the author of “Acerca de Roderer”.
Guillermo Martínez was born in Bahía Blanca in 1962. In 1985 he moved to Buenos Aires, where he obtained a PhD in Mathematical Science. He later completed post-graduate studies at Oxford.
1989 – “Infierno Grande"/ “Big Hell” (book of short stories)
1990 - "Acerca de Roderer"/ “About Roderer” (novel)
1998 - "La mujer del maestro"/ “The Teacher’s Wife” (novel)
2003 - "Crímenes imperceptibles"/ “Imperceptible Crimes” (novel)
2005 - "La fórmula de la inmortalidad"/ “The Formula of Immortality” (essay)
2007 – “La muerte lenta de Luciana B.”/ “The Slow Death of Luciana B.” (novel)
Links of interest
Summaries of some of his novels: http://es.geocities.com/agreda5/Literatura/martinez.html