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“Captain Hook’s Song”: Luces’s criticism of Mario Ghibellini’s first novel

“Captain Hook’s Song”: Luces’s criticism of Mario Ghibellini’s first novel

“Captain Hook’s Song”: Luces’s criticism of Mario Ghibellini’s first novel

The latest Peruvian literature seems to be allergic to tenderness: this sentiment, masterfully addressed by authors such as Alfredo Bryce and Laura Riesco, arouses suspicion in most current writers, who apparently associate it with sweetness, weakness, or mere corniness. Nothing more false, of course: specifying that emotion in words demands a delicate balance that is not achieved only with skill, but through a well-founded knowledge of the human experience, together with an ability to present it as a possible nuance within the harshness with which we deal every day. Mario Ghibellini (Lima, 1960), a well-known political analyst who published some interesting stories in the eighties, has not been afraid of facing the challenge of building a novel focused on the naivety and sweetness of the world of children, without diminishing the tragic burden of the adverse situations that their little creatures must endure in an unequal fight.

This is how he gives us his first book, “Captain Hook’s song”, where he tells the story of Ignacio, a wealthy middle-class boy from Lima who is afflicted with a serious illness; This causes adults to overprotect him to the point of making him live between frustration and boredom. One day his mother arranges for him to spend some time with his uncles and his cousins, Rafo and Sabine, with whom he has made a commitment: to go into a strange abandoned expanse to recreate the story of Peter Pan, which has fascinated everyone. the three. This argument, initially routine, soon acquires dramatic relevance, as Ignacio, taking advantage of the circumstances, decides to stop taking the medication that keeps his health stable. Why does he do it? Ghibellini does not make it clear to us, but we intuit it: like the famous character of JM Barry, Ignacio is tired of the restrictive world of the elderly and, in his own way, chooses to travel to an otherworldly Neverland in which to find the absent happiness.

I am willing to believe that, just as Ignacio searches for an arcadia, Ghibellini wants to revive his own: his story, set in the early eighties, captures rooms, landscapes, smells, objects and customs with love for details and a restrained nostalgia that It allows us to outline credible and distant characters from the cartoon: the memorable Aunt Gisela, the adorable Sabine, the abusive Chuncho Kessler. An arcadia is a place where fear and pain have supposedly been suppressed; Ghibellini intelligently metaphorizes this when he sets up a fair house of horrors in the middle of the plot where Ignacio and his family enter to experience an artificial, parodic panic, which develops while the protagonist suffers a private, secret ordeal that he cannot but reserve. a terrible ending that the reader awaits with anticipation of desolation, many times holding his breath.

“Captain Hook’s Song” is a novel written with care and beauty, skilfully structured, fresh and simple as a dream retained after crossing customs at dawn. My only complaint is the open ending, perhaps somewhat abrupt, which pretends to be epiphanic and ends up being excessively anticlimactic, especially after the expectation that Ghibellini has managed to instill in its recipients. I admit that this could be the highly subjective opinion of a reader trapped and then released to his fate, but the fact of formulating it already says a lot about the spell that this warm book can cast on its consumers.

Mario Ghibellini. The Captain Hook song.

Alfaguara, 2023. 147 pp.

Relationship to author: none.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 possible.

Source: Elcomercio

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