Bird Slips The Cage

In the realm of film luminaries such as Ingmar Bergman and Carl Theodore Dreyer have tackled the theme of the male artist, or practitioner, so focussed on his art or work that effectively he is blind to emotional needs, both his own and those of the people who mean most to him in the world. Bergman himself used the term ’emotional cripples’ to describe such unfortunates.

Cósimo Herrera, the writer in Marta Rivera De La Cruz’s Twenty Years Is Nothing is cut from the same cloth. Ever near but ever so far from gaining the ultimate success any writer – or at least one of his ilk – could aspire to, he is, at the age of forty-three, in a rut. The lukewarm reaction to his most recent novel is one reason he has lost the drive of the past and is now suffering major writer’s block. <br>In a bid to recharge the batteries he accepts an invitation to take up temporary residence in the Spanish provincial town of Ribanova. Nothing much changes for Cósimo at first. His disquiet being as much personal as professional, he finds himself as isolated and lonely as ever in the all embracing quiet. More than one failed relationship has marked his life. It is, we understand, his emotional distance and obsession with obtaining the writing world’s crowning garland that has played a major part in causing them to flounder.

But he gradually adapts to the provincial locale and soon assumes the task of tutoring 20-year-old Luisa, a local girl, the promise of whose budding intelligence is not lost on anyone.  Recognising in him a kindred soul, Luisa falls instantly and irredeemably in love with the big name, big city writer. But is Cósimo even aware of her passionate feelings for him, let alone able to respond to them?

The author has read her magical realism. The technique of talking about a character in the present and then in the next breath commenting on what they will be ‘many years later’ is often employed. Some may also feel a tad lost now and again in the byroads of the array of sometimes fantastical characters who populate her world, though having said that they are never less than interesting.

But none of this takes away from the fact that Twenty Years Is Nothing is a beautifully written, touching novel about missing the wood for the trees, a novel that closes on a devastating, crushingly ironical note.


About owenlindsayboyd

I am a follower of the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda - author of Autobiography of a Yogi. I begin and end each day with meditation, a spiritual base from which all else proceeds. I am a personal carer, writer and traveller, among other things, originally from just outside Melbourne in Australia. I lived in my hometown until 1984, obtaining a degree in Arts, with majors in sociology and communication studies, in 1980. I have spent a considerable amount of time since the late eighties living and working in a wide range of communities in many different parts of the world. I have lived and worked with homeless people, disabled people and refugees. As a writer, I am principally a novelist though I also write shorter pieces, both fiction and non-fiction and have published and self-published poetry, articles, short stories, memoirs and novels. In addition, I write screenplays and have made a number of low-budget film productions. In recent years I self-published a trilogy of novels dealing, principally, with the themes of healing and reconciliation. 'The Unintentional Healing of Soul' (Changeling / Trafford 2003) was followed by 'Proper Respect for a Wound' (Changeling / Trafford 2005) and 'Thanks Be to the World' (Changeling / Trafford 2009). 'Proper Respect for a Wound' was also published in e-book format by Jaffa Books, Brisbane, Australia in 2013. I self-published a two-book travel memoir, 'The Second of Three' and 'From a Caregiver's Point of View' early in 2014. It is distributed on smashwords. Later in 2014 I plan to publish a book of stories.
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