I reproduce the text of Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo in lunes de postrevolución [Mondays Post-Revolution] on the eve of the biggest day of the infamous censored International Book Fair.
The Domestic Detectives Text: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
It could have been a title from Roberto Bolaño, the dead universal Chilean. A guy who doesn’t fit entirely within the staff of the XVIII International Havana Book Fair, within the “moral” walls of the recycled firing squad pits of the Fortress of San Carlos de La Cabaña (February 12th to 22nd, headquarters of the event).
And, indeed, our domestic detectives, no less savage than those of Bolaño, call me on the phone every hour to terrorize my septuagenarian emphysema-stricken mother. They are young men and hide behind a public telephone to practice their prophylactic syntax of: “To the wall!” If your son comes to the Fair on Monday we are going to hang him, they say, and then hang up.
Hours earlier, Michelle Bachelet had inaugurated the Fair. She gave a light and lightly democratic speech in her blue dress. The Chilean president spoke of a “culture of death” that devoured her homeland in the long-and-extended “17 years of authoritarianism” (the geography seems predisposed).
Barely 17 hours later my telephone was receiving the anonymous telephone calls and my gmail overflowed with revolutionary violence against the Enemy of the People. Read: me.
They are individual emails with apocryphal IDs. Blows, a desire to deform my face, kicks in the ass, if I dare to attend the Book Fair on Monday, February 16th, and there launch, freelance, (in the voice of the philologist Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y blogger) an author’s edition of my book of stories, Boring Home: a work expelled to shouts from the State publisher Cuban Letters, perhaps for not quite fitting in with the program. There will be a kind of graffiti on the other side of the Wall. Nothing intervening or interfering publicly. Nothing of acting civil in the middle of the zoo fairground. Just a group of friends and a willing audience, sitting on the public lawn to talk of writing and censorship in Cuba. With luck, also to plot strategies for revitalization and dynamitation of the sleepy Cuban cultural canon of the two thousand or zero years (my generation has named itself: Year Zero).
But no way. “The Fair has no Outside,” could now be a court ruling from some Derridean provincial named Sánchez o Rojas o Prieto. Tetric theory of deconstruction.
So, last Saturday, February 14th, after launching myself above two cops who, thanks to the photos that by chance Lia Villares (blogger of Hechizamiento Habanémico Hebdomanario) was taking moved away from me cunningly, a vice president of the Cuban Institute of the Book came and spoke to me quite clearly. People would be angered by my presentation. The edge of the Cabaña reached to the Bay Tunnel. Inside these boundaries the presentation would be aborted a priori. The physical consequences of the matter were “out of his hands.” And now. Well, thanks for listening to me, Orlando Luis. When will I again cross, like a simple citizen, the drawbridges of the fortress?
The rest of this weekend in Havana has been an exquisiteness of tranquilizers and fortune telling for the nerves and blood pressure of my 72-year-old mother: Friday to Sunday were just 72 hours of telephonic invasion and of email in the times of cholera.
While foreign poets read Mapundungun in a room with air conditioning, under the almost summery sun of Cuba (a country with pretensions to the southern hemisphere), I, as a local storyteller, cannot even savor my prose at the edge of my own colonial bastion. For me, it speaks for itself.
Perhaps this happens to me for being a loquacious narrator who doesn’t praise, but rather who chose the madness. An author with four books of prize-winning stories published legally in Cuba. Collaborator on blogs on the edge and blockaded portals. And, to make the puns worse, a name included in The Fantabulous Isle. The Cuban story in the Revolution (1959-2008), the new official anthology where Alberto Garrandés didn’t remove me in spite of the ruckus www.anti-orlandoluispardolazo.cu. Who´s afraid of Orlando Woolf?
These are the facts. The rest is a party atmosphere imported from the Chilean biblio-left. Something like the late ‘60s in a Chamamé remix version. Humming Michelle Ma Belle in an old-folks-disco straight from this insecular Brave New Havana. Utopia dense and disciplined dry.
These are the facts. The rest is that we always read that imaginary Chile, from the pages of our e-zine of irregular writing, The Revolution Evening Post, irreverently and incendariously. Another continental island that shouldn’t wash its hands now, like the protagonist of that novella titled Archipelago Cubag.
These are the facts. Tomorrow, Monday of the post-revolution February 16th of 2009, at three in the afternoon in Havana, “without fail” Cuba will be able to put its Cabaña to the gun wherever it wants (phallus of Morro included). At the risk of repeating the fossil fable of the fox and the grapes (or low-hanging mangoes), we are not interested in exposing more barbarism. We are clean people and useful to ourselves who will not be put in a putative pugilism with the dictatorship of the proletariat nor with the police.
No one at the Letras Cubanas publisher has contacted me since my book Boring Home was almost ready for printing (half a year ago): the institution rewards and punishes its deceased children. Well, thanks for listening. Maybe I can still ask for the right of literary asylum in the Chilean embassy in Santiago de Havana.
For the rest, of the launching of a bit boring case of Boring Home, I do not encourage those called to attend at the esplanade at the entrance of the concentration camping outside La Cabaña (except the experts of the political police). The book will circulate anyway. It would not be a surprise if copies were already placed in the recesses of the walls in a kind of little game in the style of “Hidden Treasure.” Our imaginary Cuba will continue to be irreverent and inflammatory. A country more potable in the middle of a permanent parapolitical paradise Made in Latinoamerica.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.