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Arkansas de David Leavitt: la seducción de la melancolía

Alberto Baeyens 10 de Octubre de 2012 a las 14:01 h

Portada de Arkansas de David Leavitt

Quisiera escapar / como un venado herido / hasta Arkansas.

Estos versos atribuidos a Oscar Wilde suponen la cita de inicio de Arkansas (Anagrama, 2002), un libro compuesto por tres novelas cortas, independientes la una de la otra en cuanto al argumento, pero con el mismo regusto melancólico y decadente sobre el mundo de la belleza y la seducción. No es gratuito comenzar esta crítica precisamente de la misma manera que el libro: con ella David Leavitt demuestra su admiración por escritores como Wilde, Somerset Maugham o E. M. Forster, grandes ejemplos literarios del hedonismo y el descaro, pero también de la soledad narrada con importantes dosis de humor. De hecho, en la primera pieza de "Arkansas", "El artista de los trabajos universitarios", el propio Leavitt cuenta en primera persona una relación (ficticia o no) que mantuvo con un mal estudiante cuando fue profesor en UCLA y se refiere en varias ocasiones a Forster, cuya obra investiga como docente en la Universidad. Del autor inglés transcribe el siguiente poema que dedicó a un campesino:

La carne juvenil no lastra tu juventud. / Eres eterno, infinito, / eres lo desconocido y lo cierto.

 

Constituye la esencia de la actitud literaria de Leavitt, eso sí, trasladando la sociedad británica de comienzos del siglo XX de Forster al ambiente de campus californiano de finales de los 80.

David LeavittLa segunda pequeña novela de Arkansas se titula "Las bodas de madera".  Sus protagonistas, una mujer norteamericana que regenta un restaurante en la Toscana y su amigo que viaja desde Estados Unidos para visitarla después de muchos años, se ven envueltos en un enredo amoroso con un cocinero italiano. Leavitt, de nuevo como Forster, ve en la belleza paisajística y artística del país europeo una similitud con las relaciones que guardan sus personajes. Sí, de nuevo la belleza...

...No era posible pasar por alto el hecho de que en algunos rostros italianos todavía perdura esa aristocrática hosquedad que anima los retratos del Renacimiento. Y en Mauro -¿de qué otro modo decirlo?- la sangre hablaba. Sí, la sangre hablaba, y eran en los tobillos, bronceados y elegantes en sus náuticos, donde curiosamente más hablaba.

Hasta en el tercer relato, "La calle Saturn", en el que Leavitt vuelve a situar la acción en Los Ángeles, la atracción entre un escritor que reparte comida en un centro benéfico y un enfermo de sida supone un sutil canto a la estética, la elegancia de las miradas en un ambiente sórdido y superficial.

Entré. El apartamento me recordó lo que siempre había imaginado que eran las habitaciones de hotel de los jurados incomunicados: muebles sin gracia, sucia moqueta beige [...] Un hombre atractivo salió de la pequeña cocina. Rozaba la cuarentena, supuse, tenía un cabello castaño encanecido, ojos verdes y una tupida barba, muy recortada, en la que el rojo, el gris y el castaño se combinaban para crear unos centelleos casi puntillistas.

Para algunos críticos Arkansas es un libro menor en la trayectoria literaria de David Leavitt, quizás porque no tiene forma de novela al uso, ni de colección de cuentos, sino de algo a caballo entre ambas. Se trata más bien de tres historias concentradas, independientes pero repletas de sensaciones comunes, tristes unas, otras de euforia y desesperación, pero todas agradables a los ojos del lector, con una prosa sencilla, directa, poco recargada. Melancólico, irónico y cotidiano, Arkansas esconde, precisamente, lo que supuestamente escribía Wilde: un puñado de venados heridos que escapan entre las páginas de este libro.

 

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Carmelo Amado - 16-10-2012 - 10:47:55h

Pues a mi me gustó muchísimo "El lenguaje perdido de las gruas". Al poco tiempo sañió "Baile en familia" que también me pareció muy interesante.
Ahora llevo muchos años sin leer a Leavitt así que creo que voy a darle una oportunidad con "Arkansas".
Gracias por el post!

Bárbara

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Bárbara - 16-10-2012 - 10:40:41h

Muchas gracias por la recomendación, no he leído a David Leavitt y me apetece mucho empezar a conocerle con Arkansas después de leer tu post.


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