Buenos Aires, bad air, by Jordi Gracia in El País

Buenos Aires, malos aires, de Jordi Gracia en El País
Article by Jordi Gracia in the culture supplement Babelia, El País

Carlos A. Colla signs a disturbing story that ties together the social upheaval of Argentina’s ‘corralito’ with his personal and family decomposition

The shadow of the misfortune that strikes Argentina again may turn out to be for many a worse nightmare than the first time. 2001 point zero is the sarcastic title that Carlos A. Colla has given to the novel of the vital destruction of a man and a country, at the same time that it narrates the almost desperate search of a personal redemption in the middle of the chaos. It has not been published in Buenos Aires but in a new publishing house, with several strong feet between Madrid, Barcelona and California. It is called Magma and has just delivered its first three titles with the same vocation of Letters in Transit, as its motto says.

This disturbing story by Carlos A. Colla does not wield any cause or inquiry against that devastating crisis, it does not aspire to tell what those responsible for the corralito did more than 15 years ago: its subway red thread is intensely literary, with James Joyce in the background and devotion to Ulysses. But it is openly supportive of a cry that is political and democratic despair: let them all go. In a difficult and painful way it ties the social convulsion with the personal decomposition of Carlos, his family, his friends and relationships: “Let me go, produce nothing, dilute me in the Tao, disappear”.

Perhaps the story’s most pungent metaphor focuses on promiscuous and explicit sexuality, assaulted as carnality and bragging, as humiliation and as moral violence. In it, he seems to encapsulate the inner desolation of those who saw the cruel collapse of misfortune and pure destabilization, of unemployment and furious displacement among desolate slums, crimes, synthetic drugs and fear: “We did not manage to destroy the country completely, to blow it up from its foundations”, and perhaps that is why that Buenos Aires “avaricious lost in the mud turned me into a nomad without ideals, without direction or destiny”. The dreamlike-infernal pages while the protagonist wanders like a new Leopold Bloom through the street agitation, the degradation of several integers or the failure of the best palliative attempts leave the heart in a fist and keep the alert about what may come today, again, to the old Argentina.

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