It’s a bit like “Qüity and Cleo at the Villa»(And, in addition, with the Virgin) as there is Martine at the sea. Except that not at all. These are lives of misery filled with riches told with a catchy fantasy that explains this title, Full of grace. “Villa” here does not mean luxury but slum, “Villa miseria”. Argentina’s novel Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, born in 1968, begins when the two lovers left Buenos Aires and this “Villa” who suffered legal carnage, for Miami where a “Cumbia opera” allowed them to build a fortune. He tells the story of community life in the slum at full speed.
Most often, Qüity is the narrator, and sometimes Cleo. This is a transvestite who has abandoned prostitution. “About to suffocate in her own blood and in the semen of the whole police station, she had had a vision: the Virgin”, and the two will never let go. Qüity is a young journalist who went on a report to the “Villa” which does not have “Never been able to return from the other side of the world, that of those who live far from the small Auschwitz that we find in Buenos Aires both blocks away”. Qüity is the writer and has no morale at the start of the book. “I felt stranded and thought I had survived a shipwreck. I now know that no one survives a shipwreck. Those who sink die and those who get out live by drowning. “ Cleo will blame him for writing “Any bullshit”, “You have no imagination, you need things to happen so you can write them”. A child died before his eyes while searching “His favorite plush, the bald cook”, when the “Villa” has been cleaned.
It’s not just the Virgin being “Full of grace” but she’s the one who best describes the tone of the novel. Cleo wants to build her a “Nomad cathedral”, Qüity is appealing to a “Psychiatric treatment” for his partner, but here is how, over the chapters, one or the other evokes the mother of Jesus, the son in question and the stories swarming around this family. “And then, yes, we have the right to be selfish like all mothers in the world, even the Virgin says it: if it was up to her, Jesus would have been a carpenter and would have married Mary Magdalene, Even though she was a bit of a whore, it was still better than playing the prophets and getting married with a cross. ” “The host disappointed me that a few years later I would be disappointed with the drugs, even if I insisted more on coke than on God.” “She [la Vierge, ndlr] gave me the Bible to read. It’s super long. ” “She says you can’t know what it was like to pretend to be speaking as a single Jewish mother fifteen years ago two millennia ago.” Until : “And little by little I remembered and I cried, cried, cried with great cries and I insulted the Virgin in every way, I told her the most horrible things that came to my mind, “holy nitouche” was the sweetest, then I ended up saying much worse things, “grumpy”, I said to her, “treacherous daughter of a bitch”, I said to her, “a bitch raped by a pigeon, submissive and accomplice of this son of a bitch of God “». There is an original vision of Jesus in anti-Robin Hood demanding to “give back to Caesar” what belongs to him.
Full of grace also tells the life of the slum dwellers among the wealthy, the girl killed by vice, for the enjoyment of others, which offends a good friend of Qüity, “Stoic man who believed in murder without pleasure”. There are internships offering “Such difficult employment opportunities that even Theseus would never have found a job in such a labyrinth” and this moment when “The villa was filled with people, students, photographers, NGO activists who administered the tithing of guilt […]”
It changes from Miami where Qüity, from the beginning of the novel, became “Bunker freak”. “I know it now, but I can’t stand the slightest noise anymore, I think that if someone put cumbia on the bottom, I would shoot on sight. […] Curiously, this isolation is what best marks my adaptation to American society. I am part of the Bunker’s Club, an association of barjots locked in incubators as inviolable and impenetrable as they are autonomous. ” Life was different in the Villa in full activity, when it was really life but this troop was not equipped for combat. “Alone would have been enough to transform us into an army, but once we became a regiment we would have ceased to be what we were: a small and happy multitude.”
Gabriela Cabezón Cámara
Full of grace Translated from the Spanish (Argentina) by Guillaume Contré. L’Ogre, 202 pp., 18 €.