‘An opportunity’, the funniest (and haunted) book by Pablo Katchadjian

review to Paul Katchadjian (Buenos Aires, 1977), just like reading it, it is always fun because each hypothesis that occurs to you as you advance to explain what each new book of his does begins to sound ridiculous very soon, like the impostures of a pedantic critic of which he himself text is preemptively mocked. In fact, the diversion still benefits from a second pirouette, namely that this text seems to put forward its own hypotheses that explain it and then sow the suspicion that they are, indeed, ridiculous.

But neither the critic’s hypotheses, much less those in the book, are ridiculous because they are silly (on the contrary, many are ingenious and tempting), but rather because we already know them, and we also know that they are susceptible to replication, contradiction and parody… Katchadjian is an ironic and at the same time innocent literature, almost inaugural or with the intention of reaching an inaugural milestone, which starts from the conviction that all the narrative possibilities have already been exhausted, all the critical theories that explain them have already been exhausted, all the life situations that give rise to the narrative possibilities They are already sold out too. So how to write?

As usual with the author, An opportunity (hilarious book, perhaps one of his best) makes everything problematic and still advances. It advances, I think, for the same reason that life does: because, despite everything, the material exists. Nothing fully explains, synthesizes or captures it, and yet it happens and we want to translate it into language. So the author, or the narrator, or who knows who, lives and types until he fills 140 pages full of unexpected turns: “Things claimed me, and that put me into activity”, we read by way of justification. I don’t know about you, but the result makes me laugh, awakens enormous complicity in me, and comforts me in my particular disorientation.

As usual in the author, ‘An opportunity’ problematizes everything and still advances

And although I invite you to imagine that any book by Katchadjian is equivalent to an immersive art installation, I would not want to give the impression that The Plot is absent in its narrative strategy: oh, no. Here we have a protagonist who is bewitched and aspires to free himself from that sentence (but how, at what price?). Along the way, he loves women, drinks wine, investigates witches, works as a war reporter and is encouraged to start a restaurant business baptized, look where, An opportunity.

In short, I do not guarantee that the path will be smooth and linear, but it is definitely One Path. And not only that, but the last third of the book surprises us with a redemptive tendency to utilityhope and clarity (without giving up a perpetual game of misunderstandings and self-irony).

If Katchadjian had vindicated from the beginning the concept of “help” and even that of “self-help”, An opportunity drift towards a spiritism of pleasant bonhomie; and if the author’s writing had convinced us of the (amusing) difficulty of saying something new, suddenly he proposes to say the least new and most prestigious phrases in the world, such as the expression “a hymn to life”, in a way that they turn out to be new, or at least genuine, worthy of getting rid of the sardonic quotation marks that save the writer from passing off as naive or a dispenser of clichés.

In the end, I don’t know if the protagonist gets rid of the spell or not, and I don’t know if the spell is literature or destiny or what, but An opportunity gives us precisely the opportunity to ask ourselves and laugh at our precarious responses.

‘An opportunity’, the funniest (and haunted) book by Pablo Katchadjian