They reissue “The Years a Cat Lives”, a coming-of-age novel that touches on complex topics with tenderness

They reissue “The Years a Cat Lives”, a coming-of-age novel that touches on complex topics with tenderness

“Each family has its own tragedies: there are stories of abuse, betrayal, money, abrupt deaths, but I chose to tell the story of a middle-class family in the ’90s that goes through a whirlwind of situations,” says Violeta Gorodischer – writer and editor in the Nation, about the reissue of her first novel, “The Years a Cat Lives”, in the catalog of El Cuaderno Azul, an editorial project to go “against novelty” by reprinting books that had ephemeral circulations at first but they were tirelessly searched once they were sold out.

Author of the book of short stories “Dreams at 90 Cents” (Seix Barral) and the book of chronicles “Seekers of Faith” (Planeta), Gorodischer portrays in “The Years a Cat Lives” the story of a middle-class family in the ’90s in Argentina from the point of view of a girl who goes through the transition from childhood to adolescence, with the emotional and physical transformations that entails. Added to these changes is that the protagonist is sick. It is not explained what, but it can be deduced from her hair loss, the recurring visits to the doctor and the punctures. However, the focus is not on there but on how family ties are established.

“I wanted to play a little with the record of the biography but for many years I got tired of explaining that the girl was a fictional character. Then I realized that people have to read it however they want to read it,” Gorodischer tells Télam about how many Sometimes first-person fiction seems self-referential.

At the same time, the writer did an experiment: “I tried telling anything in the first person and it happened again.” “Now it seems kind of funny to me,” she says.

As the narrator of this story grows, her gaze sharpens and she notices events that previously went unnoticed: she witnesses infidelity, discrimination, abuse and how the foundations of what would seem to be an ideal family crumble little by little. . Furthermore, she is going through an illness that is not explained at any time but can be deduced from her frequent visits to the doctor, punctures, hair loss and the use of a scarf to hide her baldness. What is the reason for this inclusion? “It seemed important to me to show how a family is reconfigured from illness, from economic decline because that brings with it, what happens internally, what happens with the eyes of others. Everything that can happen within the framework of a family and how they can degrade it but how that family can resist,” explains Gorodischer.

The illness, he says, is because “nothing is guaranteed and the feeling that everything can end at any moment. His greatest initiation is facing the illness and the certainty that we are finite, that no one guarantees that it will continue.” living without any type of risk”. Despite being an intimate novel, there is a constant reference to the social and what the Argentine middle class to which the protagonist belongs is made of. For this reason, tensions appear with the domestic worker, debates about Che Guevara and a trip to Disney as the culmination of the waste of money prior to the crisis.

Most of these events are witnessed by a cat that brings the family together and through which many members find support or release their anxieties. “There is something I always like to do which is not to make the conflicts so explicit but rather to have things always happen in the background, to leave the reader the ability to remain with questions. The cat came to occupy that place of what happens behind, to give the possibility for the reader to reconstruct, to be left with questions, to be the mute witness of everything that happens,” says Gorodischer about one of the many meanings that the cat encapsulates.

During the editing process, Félix Bruzzone “illuminated the cat by bringing it to the title,” recalls the author. “It seemed like a discovery to me, it was putting the spotlight on something that was invisible. In all the chapters there was the cat and not even I had it in mind. Sometimes when you write there are unconscious things that emerge in the narrative and then you realize of internal coherence”, reflects the author of “Desmadres”.

What was it like working on the maturity of the narrative voice, which begins with an innocence that fades toward the end to become a complex voice, with tenderness but also malice? “It was a challenge because as the protagonist grew up, it was necessary to work on that tone from the point of view of memory. As if it were the recreation of a voice that grows over time. Also with many readings. I remember that What I read a lot at that time was Bryce Echenique, Salinger and a lot of North American literature,” says Gorodischer about the process.

Each chapter has the power of a story about which we always want to know more. “They have a story structure because at the beginning they were stories,” reveals the writer, who at that time did not dare to enter into “the immensity of a novel.”

“I had the desire to make it as an initiatory novel, as a genre in itself. The first contact with sexuality is also always a very initiatory moment. Sexuality as something beautiful, like a first contact, realizing that it can have another side that also It is about the loss of innocence. She encounters everything at the same time: with very high levels of violence, with fear, with the exposure of women, which is something that is not just a fashion, but is something that has been happening a lot,” says Gorodischer.

In the novel, the protagonist’s classmates make a list of “the prettiest in the class”, they do not respect limits and the narrator even witnesses abuse. “You go through puberty and you immediately become a potential victim of the violence that men exert on women. It’s something that we all experience at some point, so I also wanted to account for that,” warns Gorodischer.

In “The Years a Cat Lives” a hundred events happen in a very short time. What happens to family scars after so much shock? “I don’t like the word very much, but they are ‘resilient’. It is a family love story. After breaking up, they remain family,” concludes the author.

Source: Ambito

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