This Thursday, December 29, the book ‘El envés de los días’ by Antonio Toribios, published by the publishing house ‘Marciano Sonoro’, was presented at the Astorga Library.
The book was presented by Mercedes G. Rojo, who recalled the common literary adventures of youth in León. She highlighted in Toribios’s writing humor without acrimony, a certain humor and sometimes a touch of cynicism. She also appreciated in ‘The underside of days’ the strangeness of the names of the characters, as from other times and even latitudes; but -Mercedes joked- “in all that journey through the names of the calendar I missed the name of his grandfather, Arnulfo, a Gothic bishop expelled even from the almanacs”.
The presenter commented that it would have been more opportune to have presented it “yesterday, that of the Holy Innocents.” She read, here, the story of the saint of the 29th that corresponds to the character of Sixto and went on to say that Antonio Toribios “has become a great master of endings, which is what characterizes the short story, almost telegraphic”.
Then a kind of dialogue began between the two, a series of questions to facilitate the approach to the book. First, Mercedes asked about the origin of this ‘civil saints’ project.
Toribios went back to clarify the story of December 29, Sixto’s, recently read by Mercedes. He had listened to it as if it were written by someone else, since many of the stories included in the book were already about 20 years old. He also said that he appreciated humor and poetry, although he did not consider himself particularly sarcastic, much less a poet.
On the origin of the book, he differentiated from prehistory, for which he taught a missal from the fifties and few belonging to his mother. In his house, he said, “there was only a missal and a railway book.” As a child he would leaf through the missal and stop at the little fragments of the lives of the saints. Here he read from the missal brought by the proto-martyr Saint Stephen.
After prehistory -continued Toribios- history came and the idea of the book occurred to him from the saints that he had on the table of the administration where he worked. At that time blogs arose. And he was putting the stories in his blog. Later he would shell them out on Facebook and finally on paper.
Curious, Mercedes told him to see where he got the crazy names of the characters. There was no prior purpose, commented Toribios, but rather chance, the subjectivity of the moment, prevailed. Childhood names, family names, his own name, and other ‘alters’ of himself. On other occasions it was the qualities of the names that decided him, so he passed with ‘Friendly’ or ‘Welcome’. But it is always some name of the saints of that day.
He commented that the book also has something of a novel going on. “The book takes place in the time of my childhood and youth, which are usually the ones that make us up,” Toribios pointed out. Things almost from another era.
“Is there the intention -asked Mercedes- to save any of those names from extinction?” No, replied Toribios, the book does not claim anything. The salvation of those names is not the main motive of the book. Until not long ago in León, a newborn was given the name of the saint of the day. It was a material that being there could play.
“What would be your recommendation to encourage their reading,” said the host of the act. “There are those who have it for breakfast every day, story by story; and who reads it out of the blue, or by leaps and bounds, or looks for the story that corresponds to those names you know”, the author responded.
Finally, the presenter was interested in the title of ‘The reverse of days’. She answered Toribios that her blog was called ‘Almanac’. She did not intend to make a parody of the saints, nor make it demonic. In the same way that in the almanacs the legend goes on the back of the sheet and as that back in botany is called the back, then equating these two terms, which are already intertwined in the denomination of ‘Almanac Sheets’, Well, this title arose very spontaneously.
The act ended with the reading of the story entitled ‘Nativity’, dedicated to his grandmother born on the day of the Nativity of the Lord.