I’m back in Barcelona. I’m back to writing (or at least trying to) at my desk. It’s a flat with very little natural light. I miss room 115 of the Hotel Riu Fluvià. And the strolls through Olot or on roads that could take me to just about anywhere. And the long dinners we had where, by and large, all the residents were present. How we talked about everything under the sun at those dinners. About the situation in Catalonia—making the most of the fact that Andrew Dowling, an expert on the subject with the benefit of his outside-in perspective; about Proust and his great In Search of Lost Time, as Valèria Gaillard, who is translating it into Catalan, was one of the residents this month; about the impossibility of Trump winning the American election, etc. Most of the time we spoke in English—a language which I cannot claim to be fluent in—, but despite this, I was able to do a pretty good job following the conversation. Or maybe not, and I just think so. I prefer to think so.
The project that I was working on at Faber and which, if everything goes well, will be performed this summer, has been evolving in unexpected ways. At first, it was going to be a sort of new version of two theatre texts which are already considered as contemporary classics: Look Back in Anger by John Osborne (which was titled Amb la ràbia al cos here on the home front) and Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams. It was going to be a kind of double bill. But as soon as I stepped foot on the lands of Olot, an old story that has been on the back burner for some time now came to mind. A story that has many links to the two plays that I wanted to adapt, especially to the play by Williams. This is surely because the underlying themes are similar: the loss of innocence, the family as a prison, the impossibility of understanding across different generations, the return to a home that no longer feels like yours, etc. A story about people who, at one point in their lives, decided to leave the world behind—completely cutting themselves off from their families, with their roots, and creating their own world in community. The initial double bill turned into this single work entitled Els nens desagraïts (Ungrateful Children).
This story has a lot to do with my childhood because it involves things that I’ve seen, things that I’ve experienced. In the same way that Olot—particularly El Carrilet—also reminds me of my childhood. As I child, I had ridden my bicycle on it many times with my father or friends. We usually started off from Girona—where we were from—and we’d do quite a few kilometres. Obviously, we rarely ever got as far as Olot. These days, I have also ridden my bicycle many times. And many distant images, many conversations, come to mind.
I have wonderful memories of Faber. Not only of the residents—David, Andrew, Roy, Valèria, Iván and Kristiina—, but also of all the people who are taking this fantastic project forward: Àgata, Albert, and particularly, Francesc. I also bring with me the first volume of Proust’s work and the immense urge to discover his world, thanks to Valèria.
And the heartfelt wish that Faber will be around for many years.