Some days ago I finished reading Ferran Torrent’s novel Judici Final, the last book of the trilogy that began with Societat Limitada and Espècies Protegides. I buy and read his books for several reasons. To mention some: their informative nature. Yes, one can learn something from Torrent’s stories. You recognise discourses, attitudes and character roles which, despite being fictional, ressemble what you might find in the streets of Valencia and surrounding areas. I strongly believe that, even though the stories of his novels are fictitious, the shady business, political pacts of dubious morals and the fierce struggle for gaining power are situations which testify what happens, or could happen, in Valencian society much more realistically than what you can see in TV news (especially if you watch Canal 9 news).
I find it interesting how every character in Torrent’s novel’s (the journalist, the detective, the politician, the political adviser or the employer) behaviour is guided by pragmatism and survival instinct, without taking anybody on or assuming any moral code. I reckon that this reflects the very author’s scepticism and lack of dogmatism regarding, for instance, the political field. But not only this: I find that there is an attitude within him that oozes a distinct personality, the voice of an individual who does not want to be pigeonholed within a given political movement, who does not pretend to be something he is not, who always has his feet on the ground and who speaks freely without worrying what they might say. That is a worthy trait.
Sense of humour. I find it quite familiar. Maybe it is due to physical proximity, which implies cultural nearness. Sometimes I find that his characters’ dialogues, their comments and reactions are strongly similar to those that I could hear from any countryman, a friend, or even my own father, who, by the way, is of the same age as the writer.
The dialogues: undoubtely Torrent’s strong point. The ebb and flow of negotiations, around the table, whilst having a drink. It reminds me of the betting games, which it seems are quite present in some of his novels. In these dialogues you may find lots of implied information. In here the different characters display their thoughts which are also points of interest for Torrent.
It is at this point, a concrete dialogue in Judici Final, one of many maintained by the characters Francesc Petit and Júlia Aleixandre, comes to mind. I wanted to comment on this, but unfortunately for those reading this, I am beating about the bush somewhat...
The mentioned dialogue takes place in the rice fields of L’Alfubera Lake, where Francesc Petit, born in a village, comments to Júlia Aleixandre, a city dweller, on the difference between people brought up in a village and those brought up in a city. He says that children in the cities see their time and space to play limited to an urban park, while children in villages have the privilege of having their house gate open, so that they can wander around orchards and open space until night falls. According to this character, this freedom deeply marks their personality.
I don’t know if this is true, but when I was reading this I thought that the best moments of my childhood occurred in non-developed areas. I spend, with my family, almost every weekend or holiday in Altura, a village in l’Alt Palància (Castelló - Spain). Accompanied by who was then my best friend, I walked up and down around the fields, where we collected corn cobs, cherries or blackberries. We sharpened cane sticks that we would try to use as hunting weapons. We even drew sketches of how the prey must be caught. We had built a cane cabin in a hill nearby. It was covered with an old awning. We used to go there to spend the afternoons during many years.
When I was not at the village, but at my home town, in the outskirts of Valencia, my instinct also led me to areas where I could set my imagination free. Space in here was just a few orchards along the railway track and a rubbish dump. It was perfect for us. I lived my best moments perched on a fig tree, our secret place.
Today, on the way back home, I am on the bus looking through the window to the urban park of Ferran el Catòlic Avenue, in Valencia. There is a family taking the dog for a walk. I observe the park, a close space surrounded on both sides by cars and tarmac. I am grateful for having had the chance to play in more interesting places when I was a child. I don’t know if these kinds of things deeply mark people’s personalities, as Torrent’s character claims. But I think that the fact that I am so fond of those long afternoons wandering around orchards makes me think that, to a certain extent, it must be true. The writer from Sedaví is aware of the very rapid urbanisation process which is taking place in our country. He is making us reflect on this situation that, for sure, will change our society.