The reader who keeps a fresh memory about This will also pass, the title with which Milena Busquets woke up to publishing success in 2015, and now reaches the pages of Gema, will think, not without reason, that it is the same novel from different angles. . And this is not a reprehensible aspect but rather the opposite. That a novelist survive the avalanche of praise that book received and be, years later, capable of maintaining freshness in the story of her life –because autofiction , so in vogue in current narrative, is the genre that she has been cultivating– she says more about who he is than who he wants to be.
Busquets does not have a superlative interest in literary transcendence, as the daughter of Esther Tusquets she knows well that only the very great have access to that league, like those, Juan Marse or Ana Maria Matute, whom she knew since she was little. Rather, we intuit that he seeks literature to serve him to put in order memories and characters of his memory.and, incidentally, make an inventory of those small daily joys that existence grants us: a blouse whose praise can be sensed in the eyes of others, an unexpected caress in the hair, a joyful dinner, friendship as twinning and celebration … “After a certain age, the beauty of friends was no longer a reason for competitiveness or jealousy, but rather for pride and joy, the beauty of someone our age was a collective triumph”, she points out in these pages.
Busquets confessed to Manuel Jabois in a recent interview that he preferred “anything before writing: going out to dinner, drinking wine, going to the beach, watching a movie…”. And, certainly, thanks to a naked style, without artifice, precise, we are invited to an intimacysuch that at times it seems that the author, rather than a book, shares a personal story with the reader out loud while sipping a drink on the terrace of a charming restaurant like the ones she frequents with friends and lovers of a determined life. Because, allow me the license, the gauche divine of Barcelona is, despite the pro-independence mob that stains everything, irresistible.
The story, we say, starts from the memory of a classmate from the French Lyceum who died of leukemia, a distant, blurred, perhaps confusing image, which helps her to go through the scenes of her time at school, that time in which, According to Busquets, true friendship is forged. “Sentimental love can perhaps be perfected over time, but not friendship, friendship reaches its radiant and absolute fullness in childhood,” he writes. Thus, to the task of trying to reconstruct what happened in Gema’s last days and the void that her death left in her family, she will abandon herself with detective ways, turning to old photo albums, childhood friends, old teachers. and acquaintances who might have remembered that unfortunate girl whom the author draws in her own way. Well, you know, we remember what happened as we want to fix it in our memory, not necessarily as it was.
And the truth is that in Busquets’ literature the dead occupy more attention than the living. It already happened in This will also happen with his mother, who died in 2012 and to whom that novel consecrated. And now it happens in Gema, which is a book about the friendship with that girl, but also, or above all, it is a book about the different ways that love has , in addition to that of the children and their parents, that of the loves that have already died or are fading even if they never go away completely. The author sums it up this way: “The dead in my life, like the loves of my life, were incorruptible. Every time I saw an ex-boyfriend my heart skipped a beat.”
The Catalan writer reveals that “you fall in love with all the people you come across, even if it’s just for a nanosecond.” And she condenses into just a handful of words extremely brainy theories about love relationships and their emergence. Quotations and reflections that help us enter the reading of Gema with the certainty of being before a faithful account of the experience of love, an experience free of heroics or torments, only the story of a love that, just as it is born, dies . But above all, Gema invites you to get to know the soul of a free woman, knowing that such a condition is a personal exercise, never shared and even less negotiated. “Freedom is a gift, like beauty or talent, it is almost never conquered.”
In the end, one really enjoys reading these 150 pages with which one experiences, in some passages, an overwhelming empathy : “We really discovered how old we were at 40 years old, before it was all a costume ball.” But perhaps there are novels that have the misfortune to fall into our hands at the precise moment when, as with love, we aspired high. Such a responsibility, we take responsibility, is within the reach of very few works. However, despite the fact that it was not exactly what we expected, because of how much we have enjoyed it, like those stories that are lived with intensity and then end, it deserves to be said that it has been a beautiful book. That the memory of him is worth it.

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