“Vocedavecchia”: between innocence and perversion, the childhood story of the Spanish author Elisa Victoria

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And the 1992. TO Seville the Universal Exposition is inaugurated, with a theme The era of discoveries. Always in Seville, and always on the subject of discoveries, Marina is living her childhood in the popular neighborhoods of the city. She is nine years old and she is called at school Vocedavecchia.

Marina grows up in the midst of womenalong with a colorful grandmother and a mother who is often absent because she is busy getting over one serious illness. Marina and the grandmother are talking of love, of husbands and lovers, of desires and cravingswithout the half-words that often filter communication with children.

To fill the void left by her mother and by the misunderstandings with other children, Marina takes refuge in the comics for adultsin the Chabel dolls and in sexual desires of which, as yet, it knows neither forms nor boundaries.

Elisa Victoria – also, like the protagonist, born in Seville (in 1985) – tells of a childhood made up, together, of innocence and perversionof discoveries and absences, of desires and fears. Vocedavecchia (Blackie Edizioni, translation by Elisa Tramontin) is his first novelfollowed by El Evangelio and the graphic novel El quicio.

It reminded us of the recent debut of Andrea Abreu, Donkey bellyset in Tenerife, and brought out curiosity and questions, which we addressed directly to the author.

What do we need to know about her?
“I don’t know… I live in the mountains of Southern Spain with a lot of cats. I think the only relevant thing about me is that I wrote this book, which I hope will entertain ”.

If you had to summarize it in one sentence, what is the novel about? And what did he want to tell us with this story?
“My novel is about the layers that hide under the apparent simplicity of childhood and how these can be especially appreciated in the density of summer. I wanted to build a story in which all the contrasts of childhood were shown, funny and dark, sweet and mean, pleasant and disturbing. I tried to write a book that was fun and philosophical, from a very accessible point of view. At best, my dream was to make people remember the lost feelings of the past, helping them to better understand how sensitive and receptive children are and how they should be treated and respected ”.

Vocedavecchia it is an intense, sincere and even harsh novel, at times. What prompted you to write it, what urgency?
“I’ve always been fascinated by children’s voices in fiction and had already written some short stories from that perspective, but I felt there was something bigger to explore, and I was afraid to forget the feelings of childhood. So working on this book was like writing some kind of essay using my memories and all my research on being a child. Now all those notes are safe ”.

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Each author faces the gesture of writing in a personal way. Those who write for years in their spare time, those who lock themselves in the house for weeks, those who think first of the characters and those of the story. What is his “writing method”, if he has one?
“I’ve always done everything according to the moment. In this case, it took me four years to write the novel., While working as a journalist. First I thought about the character of a little girl and her relationships with her grandmother, mother and summer. Summer, in general, is different for every child and that year, 1993, was particularly extreme in the place where I grew up, and that was another key aspect for me. I usually work from the impulse to explore how characters deal with a concrete environment and start taking notes on what they might be like and possible timelines, trying to make the different voices work in context and doing a great job of understanding. when things should happen. At that point, I take all the information and understand how to put it together to build an entire narrative ”.

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“I still don’t quite understand that I won’t be trapped forever in this prison called childhood, that at some point I’ll grow up and have to face worse problems.” Marina’s childhood is a childhood that, in the story, is perceived as a concrete presence, as a character in itself, with very specific characteristics and traits. What tastes, what smells and what colors does childhood have? If she were really a character, how would she describe him?
“Childhood smells, tastes and looks different for everyone, but it’s always very intense. It seems long, as made up of years and years in slow motion. For me it has the yellow light of Southern Spain, the smell of old magazines and new dolls mixed with that of my grandmother’s messy kitchen. It tastes like fried potatoes, sweetened strawberries, chorizo ​​sandwiches, industrial mess and powder. I would say childhood is frightening and bright like a morning ghost ”.

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“Vocedavecchia.”
It’s Juan Carlos. I hate that you call me that. It sounds like an insult, but it doesn’t mean anything else that I have a hoarse voice and I use expressions typical of an old woman, on the other hand I appreciate her confidence. Giving me a nickname means she knows me.
This is how the novel’s title tells. Title that speaks of an old woman’s voice despite the whole story being told from the point of view of a child. How are “old voices” and “child’s” ones different? What can one afford to say that the other cannot say?
“The two items are mixed on each page. The deep feelings with the unknown ones. I think that every child can have both voices in his head and I just feel like a translator of all this ”.

“My legacy is passed on only by women”. What is a “female” inheritance? What do women pass on to other women?
“In this particular case the men are mostly an absence and the women pass on everything they have, from the name and surname, to the decisions, to the goods, to the ways of speaking and doing, to the memories. I believe that what women convey to other women depends on the type of woman they are. It can be a name, an aesthetic, a way of taking care of people and things or managing the economy, a particular sense of humor. It can also be anger, competitiveness, ignorance or knowledge, songs, fear, strength, it can be anything. When I was young I read many books written by men in which male characters were sensitive and complex and women were represented as something distant, missing, desired but difficult to find and understand. This same thing can be true for both parties ”.

Aware that every novel is, after all, an autobiography, how much of its history is there in this story?
“A lot of the way Marina thinks is based on how I thought at that age and what I observed around me at that time. I was dark but also funny, full of pain and hope. I took a lot of mental notes about the childhood dynamics my friends and I followed and later in my life, I had a lot of conversations about being a kid and read a lot about childhood in general. Childhood has always been a hot topic for me, and all of that has become extremely useful for this book. I tried to concentrate and evoke as much as possible those notes, those memories, those feelings and that lifestyle. In the end, I wanted to show that children are complete human beings. I was not under construction then, I was a person in transit like everyone else, just as I feel now, with interests, concerns and things to do. In addition, I must say that I had a very close relationship with my grandmother ”.

Tell us about it.
“She was a very down-to-earth, witty, bubbly, self-confident woman. She made me feel loved, protected and understood even though we were very different. She was very funny and open-minded and because of that, it was very easy to talk to her. There was never embarrassment. She was always ready to make my day easier by singing my favorite song in the morning, cooking my favorite dish, sewing my favorite dress, telling me the story I had just written was great, letting me see a horror movie and then telling me my favorite fairytale over and over until he heard me sleep. My childhood was a bit complicated, but she was very generous and made my life more bearable. I felt blessed to have spent so much time with her. She taught me a lot about how children love to be treated and, over the years, the experience of our intimacy has been very inspiring for me and worthy of being portrayed. “

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The article is in Italian

Tags: Vocedavecchia innocence perversion childhood story Spanish author Elisa Victoria

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