Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The author's life as his own character

Call me crazy, but for years I’ve been haunted by this very peculiar character I created. It’s kind of weird, since in many ways he’s essentially the opposite of what I am –a hustler, a pessimist, a whiner at times, a loser with an ax to grind about almost everything and one who often finds himself saying, “What can I do about it?”

Manny, the protagonist of the narratives in my last book, Descansa Cuando te Mueras (Rest When You Die), can hardly be expected to succeed at anything, least of all selling Cable-TV services in Little Havana in the early 80’s. He has quietly resigned himself to being in a perennial refugee status and feels he has no claim to honor or prosperity either. His past is as shady as his acquaintances –mostly small-time hoodlums, scam artists and loose women.

That is not to say he has some positive sides to him. He’s a good friend and has a heart of gold, if that helps. But that’s about it.

So I’d be hard pressed to find anyone more different to me. Yet somehow he grew out of my imagination and made a home for himself in a series of stories I couldn’t stop writing for a long while. Slowly, I found myself thinking like him, talking like him, contemplating the world around me through his eyes. And it was quite a terrifying experience.

Fortunately, writing brought Manny out of my system. Not entirely, mind you –just enough to outgrow this facet of my life as a writer. Many stories and possible occurrences involving Manny still flash through my mind every now and then, but I’m mostly rid of him.

Some performing artists claim to have had a similar experience while channeling a particularly challenging character. However, I had never gone through something like this.

Here’s a sample of how Manny speaks through me, in the second piece of my book:

“Yo nunca veo nada. Cosas sobrenaturales, quiero decir. Para todo lo demás tengo una visión de veinte-veinte. Siempre he admirado a los que tienen el don de la profecía, la capacidad de ver lo invisible, pero no los envidio. Hay cosas de las cuales es mejor no saber”.

On that note, I leave you for now. Here’s where you can find my book:

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