twist: things you think and don´t say    Talking with Harkaitz Cano about his last novel
(Twist. Susa Literatura. 2011)
There are many different voices in the book. There are many jumps in time, space and characters. Twist is the name of a dance: fold, squeeze, turn, bend, those are its meanings ... In fact, those are appropriate ways to describe what happens to the characters. When did you
give the book its title?

When I’d already written quite a lot of it. “The Turn of the Screw” would have been a better title, but Henry James got there long before me ... I wanted a title that didn’t give any
clues about what’s inside, which closes the book for you more than it opens it. There’s something about the Twist, as though the dancers wanted to run away from themselves, and that goes well with the story ... And it’s a happy dance. A lot of things in the book are rough and I wanted a counterweight for that.

You’ve brought together real events and people with fictional ones. When you were writing, were there particular difficulties in giving the story the natural feel it needed?

The characters are as if they were reflected in deforming mirrors in the novel: at times fictional mirrored beings are alongside the real events. Once I’d assimilated that, everything was easier. The characters being fictional gives you freedom to tell things without any reservations. And, at the same time, the fact that some characters were real gave me tension, motivation and, in fact, empathy or responsibility with
regards to the main characters.

At the beginning you give a description of the 80’s, you send the reader a telegram about the events of that period (it reminded me of the novel 2666,in which there’s a list of all the women killed in Ciudad Juarez ... the idea of
an autopsy ... ). At that time you were a child, you weren’t an active player in that period’s events. What drove you to pick up those years’ physical and emotional memory?

I’m astonished by our limitless capacity for forgetting things and starting as if nothing
had ever happened before. It was Cristian Mungiu’s 4 luni, 3 septamini si 2 zile (4
Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) film that drove me to do it: I imagined contemporary Rumania’s countryside and objects to be very like our childhood’s, and I can’t bear us being as paternalist a country as Romania is, our forgetting that we were just like them as recently as yesterday morning. Your hard disc gets formatted between the ages of 5 and 10, and that happened to me in the 80’s. It’s even then that you learn that you’re not free.

The main character in the book, or the main character of many different tales in it, is a writer. You tell us the strategies to stay alive, the fears and misery of a writer ... Your criticisms of literature are harsh (“Basque literature isn’t even worth sending to prisons as a gift”), and journalism, politics and the world of art also come in for severe criticism ... Like in the song ¨Twist and shout¨, it seems like you’ve brought a lot of things out from inside you ...

We each have our personality and our job ... As far as you are something, that’s what you know well, isn’t it? It’s too big a temptation to use what you know as a chariot of war ... As far as journalism’s concerned, it’s sold its soul to technology and amateurism without demanding any conditions ... And what can we say about politics? If they’d been as dominated by statistics in 1981, in the Mitterrand period, as we are now, they’d never have abolished the guillotine (61% of the French people were against
abolition). And now French “democrats” will tell you about human rights, when thirty years ago they were still cutting people’s head off. And there are similar things in our country. It’s as if lots of people who have immunity wanted to put the taxi metre back to zero.

You use ellipsis a lot in the book. You use it in a radical way. You jump over the actions that would appear in typical narrations and films (torture, murder, trials, investigations, etc) and look into the intimate corners and consequences they had. Aren’t you interested in action? Are you boycotting any possible cinema
version of the book?

There is action, but I preferred the preparations for trials to the trials themselves. I preferred loose threads to the investigations’ conclusions. I’m interested in the tortured and the torturers decisions and contradictions with regard to torture. But there could be a film version, you know? Like in boxing films, there could be films without any fights, the cameras would be waiting for the boxers in the changing rooms!

We have to talk about your mention of La Invencion de Morel (The Invention of Morel). Twist has a lot to do with Bioy Casares’ marvellous novel. Reality and the
projection or representation of reality, ghosts speaking, invisible relationships between the narrator and the characters ... Do you agree with that, or are we giving an interpretation of something that isn’t really there?

Ha, you’ve caught me! That division is the book’s main engine: the original and the copy, impersonation, things getting bent, the fever of originality ... What we call the cyberworld and the “real” world ... There’s a chute that goes down inside us and another that leads to the sweet mirror of self-deception. They each have their own advantages and risks.