On the back cover of To the two will be the three, Sergi Pàmies (Paris, 1960) has placed a phrase by Enrique Vila-Matas. He says that in recent times, the more brutally biographical Pàmies is, the more fictional his literature is. It is one of those round, provocatively paradoxical phrases that flatter the author because they make all the weight fall on creation, on literature. The biography is a pretext to reach fiction, which is the desirable horizon. It is an approach that I like although I do not quite see clearly that it is so. The latest books by Sergi Pàmies are part of a genre – as noble as pure fiction or fiction more or less mixed with autobiography – which is confession.
⁄ Pàmies is a master, his stories work wonderfully, with luminous moments, based on a minimal anecdote
In the same way that Saint Augustine recounts his childhood up to the age of fourteen, that he became a follower of Manichaeism and that he met Ambrose of Milan, to end up reflecting on memory, creation and time, Pàmies talks about his early years in the banlieu from Paris, from his friends from Gennevilliers and from Barcelona, from the encounter with figures who have had a decisive weight in his career –Johann Cruyff and Manolo Vázquez Montalbán–, from his illnesses and his hypochondria. And from there he ends up on philosophical questions about memory, the fragility of life or the art of storytelling. Above the origin of this or that episode, whether we can conclude what is lived, reworked or invented, the tone prevails, which seeks to establish a complicit communication with the reader: what I am going to tell you belongs to my privacy, I do not know I have told no one, it contains a key of myself that opens the highest and most abstract locks.
⁄ The confession is a genre as noble as pure fiction or fiction more or less mixed with autobiography
Thus, for example, one of the best stories in the book, Why don’t I play the guitar, which is somewhat reminiscent of the one he published a few years ago about his father’s trench coats and his communist friends, who wore them with great style. From the story of her mother that she never had money and that instead of the clarinet that she wanted, she bought him a guitar called cadet –smaller than a normal guitar–, Pàmies tells of the relationship he has had with guitars. Beginning with the initial wound –a child’s guitar that reveals his dependency– until the glorious moment when, singing the songs he has learned at home –the Nova Cançó and the anti-Franco songbook–, he triumphs at the progressive school. And later, when he buys one of those fabulous Ovations, electrified acoustics. To end up remembering the moment when he heard the great guitarists, he thinks that he will never play like them and the decline and apocalypse of the instruments begins. To finish at the starting point: the clarinet. All this is embroidered with finesse and erudition. Pàmies has created a world of his own references –musicians, writers, journalists– in which he has quenched his self-taught thirst. The story says a lot about himself and his traumas, and about the way of understanding creation, based on his musical models.
⁄ Fantasy is part of autobiography: a projection of oneself and the ghosts of the subconscious
Fiction, invention, fantasy are part of the autobiography. They are projections of oneself, ghosts of the subconscious, emanations of the self that, in a somewhat overwhelming way, fill Pàmies’ books. The portrait of the parents, who we have seen suffer in the Franco regime and in exile, exult in the transition, grow old and die; and of the children, whom we have accompanied in their childhood and adolescence among all kinds of apprehensions, to the point that it is as if, in a certain way, we knew them, it is always linked to the narrator who occupies the center of the experience.
Pàmies is a master, his stories work wonderfully, with luminous moments, often starting from a minimal anecdote, as on that occasion (Fires and congresses) in which a lecturer, a German writer from Oxford, lights up when, rummaging through his backpack, he finds the tangerine he has prepared for the return trip. Pàmies offers the reader a tangerine of sensitivity and intelligence.
The two will be the three
Quaderns Cream. 134 pages. 14 euros