Who I Am and Why I Write

I write because I have always written and I shall probably never stop writing. I write because I need to, and because I don’t know if I’d be able to live any other way. I write, above all, because I like telling stories in the way I want to, and because I hope other people will enjoy reading them, at the very least, almost as much as I enjoy writing them and, if possible, even a little more.

I have worked as a journalist, scriptwriter and copywriter, but these were only stratagems so I could earn my living as a professional writer. I have worked like this for the same reason that, apart from the books I publish, I have also written articles and recipes, news and reports, tweets and speeches, newspaper stories and slogans, notes and lectures, letters and projects, abstracts and exams, verses that nobody will ever read and a few names that quite a lot of people know. I have always tried to be paid for writing, or to do things that I believe are not far removed from it, and I have made this way of living my way of living.

In other words, I write because I am a writer and I am a writer because I write. If I had lied with any other more brilliant answer, I might look like a better writer. But I have preferred to lie in this other way so it would be clear that I was lying.

Barcelona, 1962. Journalist, scriptwriter and writer

This is the only truth: never ask a writer why he or she writes. The only correct way I could answer that question would be to write the books I have published, all over again, and to publish too hastily the books I have not yet written.

It is a question I shall never want to answer because I always answer it when I write. I write because the books you can read tell much better stories than that of my reasons for writing. When I don’t write any more, all the stories I shall have written will also tell you why I write. They will be lying but that’s the best truth I can offer.

It’s said...

Carreras’ latest novels approach fiction from a professional standpoint, in the good sense of the word: they seek out things that will appeal to the reader, interesting landscapes and the human dimension with psychological touches and a social perspective. In this regard, Joan Carreras and Eduard Màrquez (who has worked along similar lines and has also written a novel about Bosnia) have opened up a niche that is beginning to find readers.

This refined, exquisite, well-paced language of precise and insightful words also makes it possible to complete, with small and broad brushstrokes, a tableau of Dutch idiosyncrasy. It enriches a bittersweet, powerful story which leaves a deep impression in the literature lover.

With this novel Joan Carreras achieves the narrative maturity that one has already divined in his earlier books, which is to say in the short story collection La bassa del gripau (The Toad’s Pond) and the novels L’home d’origami (Origami Man) and Carretera secundària (Side Road).

Joan Carreras ushers the reader into a police inquiry but without falling into the genre temptation. This not a crime novel but a reflection on impunity, on the impossibility of eradicating evil. In a nutshell, yes there is a crime, and when it seems that we have stepped into a Simenon novel, it turns out that we are immersed in something more like a novel by Modiano, who has always been a master at blending intrigue and mystery. There are novels of intrigue that do not convey mystery. Then again, there are novels that create an impressive atmosphere without striking any spark of intrigue or the longing to know what is going to happen on the next page. Intrigue and mystery. Carreras serves up both in the same cup.

The almost rudimentary police investigation removes the masks that the novel’s lead characters have been constructing, revealing their true faces with their whole array of deformities and wounds. They are caricatures which were once beautiful thanks to silences, lies, envy and even betrayals, carefully assembled to cover up the frustrations implanted in their surroundings by everyday life. This is a world created by means of a warped narration of reality, the basis of the non-communication which is the malaise of so many sentimental, family and friendship relations in present-day society.

Rich, direct language, incisive narrative skills, well developed dialogues and one surprise after another keep enhancing a novel which is attractive in its entirety.

In his last novel, L'home d'origami (Origami Man), Carreras explored a tortuous relationship while, with Carretera secundària (Side Road), he delves into a less convoluted world to portray characters who are not so different from our neighbours and relatives. In these two works about familiar themes his capacity for observation and re-creation is at its most convincing. Few writers are able to construct dialogues that can make the action advance in a natural way, describing things without causing a sense of déjà vu, and moving the characters with firm delicacy.

L’home d’origami (Origami Man) [...] meets the three requirements that might be expected of a novel. First, the language flows without stridency or showing off. Second, the construction seems as good as it could possibly be since the narrative material is not set into a predictable chronological series. Rather, stories which seem to be independent end up coming together with energetic elegance reminiscent of the Coen brothers. Third, Carreras tackles the most difficult themes: love and death, of course, but also heartbreak and agony, together with other tough issues like sadomasochism and child abuse […].

The main character of the book is a writer who has created a successful schematic character who, apart from enabling him to prosper, gives him a mask to hide behind. After an experience in which he is forced to face himself, the writer realises that he has to write about “a lonely man who is unable to love and it is almost too late for him to learn”. This is the origami man, a man made up of folds upon folds, self-absorbed, a frail, beautiful, artistic and vulnerable figure.

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