Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Country Fictions/Country Hell

I like Country Fictions by Juan Aballe. It's published by Fuego Books, a Spanish publishing house based in Madrid, and it's an elegant green cloth-backed volume, one picture pasted on the cover. This pastoral cover image looks like a painting, it's all mountains, hills and fields with an idyllic-looking farmhouses in the foreground.

So there's the Country and there are the Fictions. We're straight into what we, as city dwellers, project onto country living, that pastoral idyll.

There are sheep on hills and smoky hilltops, a caravan where a woman who has just washed her hair sits drawing on a smoke; she's found the patch of sun and dappled light streams in through the vines growing above.

There are more caravans and lean-tos and teepees, mattresses spread out on floors where escapees from the city (or not from the city) flake out and rest their tired limbs. and at the end of the book a white haired woman looks out over a wooded valley, white shawl and felt shoes hinting at the nip in the air.

And then comes the poem. It begins like this:

We search for years, 
we imagine our future in better places
where we could start all over.

Maybe there was once a countryside, 
a village with green and fertile meadows,
Now we return to find only
the remains of a disused scenery.

We search for beauty in a landscape
where we do not belong,
where time seems to have stopped still.

We live our own transition,
our fragile utopia,
trying to understand,
what we are doing here,
and who we are.

So there's the scene set and we can project that onto the people - but that is all we can do. Looking at the pictures (which are really good. It's a nice edit) I can try to understand what these people are doing there - which ones are damaged or disturbed or lonely or shy. Who has found a refuge, who has escaped, who has left behind. We can make our guesses, but guesses are only guesses.

Maybe that's half the fun?

Buy Country Fictions here. 

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