Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Arriaga: “In this quarantine books are a candle”
The writer also chatted live with his readers through Twitter about his new novel Save the Fire and a handful of more intimate topics.
In times of Coronavirus -we've already lost the 'crutch'- the world of culture resists abandoning its consumers to the torpor of confinement as talks and presentations through social networks begin to abound. A phenomenon that may, against all odds, be reviving not only literary gatherings but also saving them from their pedantry.
A good example of this was the live chat writer and scriptwriter Guillermo Arriaga ('Amores Perros', '21 Grams') had with his readers via Twitter. In spite of initial discomfort and the fact that he showed himself to not be very skillful with new technologies - "it's strange to be talking like a budgie to an iPad"-, it ended up being the closest thing to having a conversation with your favorite author thanks to the openness of users on the Internet.
Arriaga began by talking about novel Save the Fire, a love story that won the prestigious Alfaguara Prize this year, and of which he presented the printed copy and its cover:
"It's about the story of Marina, a choreographer, about 38 years old, with three children, married and wealthy, who often wonders if what she's doing is interesting, and is obsessed with it. She presents a choreography that is a disaster, thinks about quitting, and at one point is invited to give a performance in prison. There, she meets José Cuauhtémoc, a murderer sentenced to 50 years in prison, the son of an indigenous activist who is obsessed with educating his children so that they won't be insulted as Indians," the writer said.
His main interest is "extreme love", he said. And from there, in the quick, anonymous exchange of questions and answers that social networks foster, we learned what is never told in a presentation.
"I don't write on the throne, buddy, what happened?"
For example, that literature saved Arriaga from "wearing a suit and tie"; that hunting, though frowned upon, helps him to write - "it allows me to observe nature and understand human beings," he said; that he loves bad jokes; that he suffers from insomnia, and that one of his children, who appears in the room, looks just like him but with hair.
To Arriaga, literature is an "addiction". He writes on planes, trains, and in airports. "Also in the bathroom?," asks an Internet user."I don't write on the throne, buddy, what happened?" he jokingly answers.
He was broadcasting from his home in Mexico, where he is under quarantine for the "coranavirus", as he calls it, along with his family.
"We live in dark times. And in these dark times, there is a Chinese proverb that says: 'Don't curse the darkness, better light a candle'. I hope that in this quarantine that we face, the books will become a candle," he said.
Could it be that in addition to panic and loneliness, this viral apocalypse is not going to make us more like zombies but lovers of culture?
With a distance greater than the three or five meters that separate an author from his audience at a "normal" event, Guillermo Arriaga proved that screens can also be windows. And, at the end of the day, what's behind the spines of a books are people.