Milena Busquets and “The Right Words”: the ability to combine the frivolous and the profound

Milena Busquets (Barcelona 1972) achieved overwhelming success with her second book “This Too Will Happen”, in which she deals with her relationship with her mother, the writer and editor Esther Busquets, starting from her death. Through autofiction or biographical writing, she has demonstrated an honest and balanced handling of the texture of her experience between the mundane and the profound within the format of the novel.

“Brilliant, lucid, moving, naked and painful memory of farewell” according to Juan Marsé.

Then came “Gema”, where she uses the same techniques, but exploring a more widespread past together with the present of a contemporary writer.

In “The beautiful words”, we find a diary covering a year in the real life of the creator of the previous works. This is the year 2021 and in it appear, through voices of different lengths, fragments of daily life, or rather small pieces that are composing a notion of life. Shortly after reading, we begin to suspect that we are dealing with a life diary without too many manipulations or tricks, where thoughts, facts and reflections are exposed. There is no presence of narrative promise or dramatic tension. Children, friends, yoga classes, visits to the psychiatrist, love and eroticism, Barcelona, ​​good days and bad days coexist in this book. And a series of disquisitions on the past and on the family, on the passage of time and in particular on literature. Writing and reading, or in the case of Milena Busquets we should change the order, reading and writing. The sum of these inputs builds a character who is honest and naked.

“July 20th

It seems to me that the search for the beautiful has become the search for the ugly (they call it reality and truth, but no, it’s ugliness), but in art, truth is reached only through beauty, because these are times that are not only bad but also false and liar.
For certain things I am a textbook bourgeois, sordidness, ugliness and poverty repel me.

Nor is it a writer’s diary, such as those that are published after his death and are used for research and knowledge. In which we sometimes detect a natural calculation on the part of the author who inevitably thinks of posterity. This book gives the impression that the author doesn’t give a damn what people think of her. She is certain that if he writes for approval or affection, she is lost. Which to a certain extent is attractive and liberating, in times where there is an excess of testimonial urgency bathed in a suffocating morality.

The ability to unite the frivolous and the profound is an honest exercise, especially when we find, as in this case, an effort to move away from complacency and the ability to challenge oneself.

“October 8th.

Write two sentences that are not lies a day. Maybe I’m ambitious.”

The love for the children, for the brother, for the father, even absent, are treated with the complexities that affection for others entails, complexities that sometimes reside within ourselves. It happens the same way in front of the couple and friends, the author exposes them openly, and above all in her relationship with her mother, to whom she has already dedicated an entire book, but something remains open. Perhaps for this reason she finds refuge and relief in literature, despite the difficulties and the possibility of failure, there is more control in her exercise than in real life.

This is the essence that beats under the events of the year, lunches with friends, the Olympics on the TV screen, city walks and worry about money. Essence that resurfaces in front of the reading of Proust and Chekhov, in front of the blank page and the edition of what has already been written. To dive back in, make yourself comfortable while shopping for dessert at a specific Barcelona pastry shop.

The only problem or risk we can detect in the form is that, despite being a relatively short book, not all entries generate the same interest. Sometimes we encounter some that make us wonder: Why am I reading this?, but then, as we turn the page, as the day changes, we find others that revitalize the reading:

«The search for a balance between elegance (beauty, self-control, the ability to keep distance from oneself and escape from complacency) and brutality (honesty, truth, courage) is no more. The desire to be able to combine the two things (since separate they are useless) and that the result is a work of art.»

This is Milena Busquets’ proposal in “Las palabras justas”, to offer us a year of normal life, without extraordinary events, similar to those of any person, who must necessarily live and function. And perhaps the real quest lies in finding the right way to express it. In one of the September entries, the protagonist picks up her teenage son after she hasn’t seen him in a couple of days. She begins to question him, but she gets only monosyllables in response. Insisting on trying her, she is interrupted by the following sentence: “Mom, the right words.”

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  • The content expressed in this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of The meter.

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