de joueur d’échecs (jeune champion d’échecs au Chili, il a fait match nul face à Kasparov lors du championnat du
monde de Dortmund en 1980), avant d...
“What happens to the characters once a book is closed? Will they stay where they are? Will they really be happy? And more importantly: who will look after their children? I used to answer your questions but, deep down, I thought they were laughable. There’s a full stop in life just like in books. Full stop, no more.”
This is a man talking to his son.
You might think that this man, who loves the child almost in spite of himself, wants to leave on him the imprint of a past he himself did not have. Because his own father did not explain. He is and always will be a ghostly figure, hard to capture. Explain what? That he grew up to quickly at stage when everyone else was having fun? That he got away, put a full stop to his village and its boredom to have a chance of happiness, though he never found it? Manuel tries in vain to explain. He tells the story of an essentially ordinary, joyless possibly overly sensible existence. Illness, misunderstandings, missed opportunities; everyday upsets that we would all rather see packed away in a cardboard box so we are free to escape to an easier future. So we don’t let history repeat itself. So that we don’t end up imitating something we once despised. But once the story is over, what happens to the characters? And will we ever know how to answer that question?
Bernardo Toro tells the story of fatherhood, the repetitions in a man’s life, his abortive attempts to avoid rewriting the past, to prove that he does know how to be happy. This is an ordinary man’s novel written in an extraordinary way: the words quiver, the punctuation marches past and the every sentence is about to explode as the uninterrupted thread of its narrative spools on. Everyday life implodes and this life from son to son then takes a dramatic turn.
Bernardo Toro was born in Chile. He moved to Paris at seventeen and first pursued a career as a chess player (as a young chess champion in Chile, he played a disastrous game against Kasparov during the 1980 world championships in Dortmund), before studying literature at the Sorbonne. He is now the director of the literary review Rue Saint Ambroise and has written one previous book, Contretemps, published by Les Petits Matins in 2006.