El viaje a pie de Johann Sebastian

Periférica, 2014

(The Walking Journey by Johann Sebastian) Can the story of an eccentric family become a symbol of a country and an era? Is originality the most common expectation? Shall one narrate a life or narrate against life? In El viaje a pie de Johann Sebastian Carlos Pardo continues exploring autobiography as a fiction genre. The plot? A small-town woman babysits and works as a housekeeper in Madrid. She gets engaged to the young gentleman of the house, a young engineer, with whom she has five children, each of them very individual: two rock musicians, a mechanic, a waiter and a poet. None finish school. There’s divorce. The mother falls ill. One at a time the children lose it. The retired father takes up competing in triathlons as an athlete, enjoys big time success and goes on to open a gym until he suffers a stroke on a bicycle on the side of a road. The reckless children care for the father and mother. But the plot, in this case, is what happens before the ovel, and El viaje a pie de Johann Sebastian does not tell this story but rather what has slipped out of it: through music, street dandyism, humour, arts and politics.
The author offers readers a brief romantic tale in the middle of this novel of rare tenderness: Johann Sebastian Bach, twenty years old, an orphan, travels from Arnstadt to Lübeck to replace his teacher, organist Buxtehude; a small allegorical machination that introduces subtle nuances to the rest of the plot radically altering the realistic premises of the narrative. Thus, the story of a family, both original and mediocre, can encapsulate the slow decline of a person and the carefree approach the autobiographical narrator manages to add to the possibilities of the story, any story, at a time the market price of experience has lost its face value.