The urban narrative of marginal and youthful accents must be one of the most fertile aspects of our current literature. From time to time we get meetings of stories and novels imbued in those paths with disparate results. From time to time we come across a voice that circumvents the conventions of the genre to propose a singular and recognizable perspective (this is the case of “Barrio Laberinto” by Leonardo Ledesma Watson, the books by JJ Maldonado or the stories of “No one will miss us” signed by Luis Palomino) but the vast majority do not exceed the commonplaces that have plagued us since the nineties; for this reason the sensation of a deja vu is almost inexorable when undertaking its reading.
However, there are those who believe that there is still something to inscribe on the looms of urban realism. For example, Aarón Alva (Lima, 1987), of whom we already knew thanks to his interesting and informed literary reviews on digital pages and his first book, “Ordinary Stories” (2017), a very correct set focused on the microcosm of the center from Lima. He returns with “A good taxi driver is difficult to find”, a much more solid work that bequeaths an excellent story and several sections where we verify a consolidated formal mastery and situations. The volume is made up of four long stories linked by the presence -suggested, announced or blurred- of a fictitious city called Iliana, a city that the inhabitants of Lima idealize as a safe and prosperous place, a refuge to flee from the sufferings that mar their lives. minimal lives.
The best of the stories is “Music Contest”, the story of a middling teacher who hates the tastes and customs of the adolescents he teaches, who, in a very Ribeyrian way, is presented with the possibility of escaping his grayness by being elected. jury for an award organized by a certain lineage club. Alva knows how to animate this fable of regrets and mistakes through actions elaborated through a consolidated coherence of the mental and external planes of the world that is placed before us. This is achieved, among other resources, due to the skilful use of the interior monologue, which searches with insight and humor in the desires and fears that sabotage the protagonist at decisive moments.
The remaining narratives are more uneven; they combine spaces in which Alva brings out her technical skills and her boiling imagination for dialogues with others in which the resolution of conflicts leaves us undaunted. Something curious happens with the stories “A good taxi driver is difficult to find” or “Bicycle Stories”: we prefer the dead times in which the characters
they confess or abound in apparently unimportant issues than the supposedly climatic points. Alva maintains the tension of the former, but fails to sustain that of the latter, and we believe that this is due to the forced conviction that violence is the inevitable destiny of her creatures (the murder of “A good taxi driver”, the threat of the crazed brother in “A second first time” or the implausible fight with a bicycle attack in “Relatos”). When the pattern changes, as in “Music Contest” or in the initial section of “Stories”, Aarón Alva demonstrates his potential and what we can expect from him.
“A good taxi driver is hard to find”
Author: Aaron Alva
Editorial: White tusk
Relationship with the author: none.
Assessment: 3 stars out of 5 possible.