when the world becomes a junkyard

  • Editorial La Campana
  • 192 p. / 20.90 euros

After three stories without the diffusion they deserved and the novels Lèmmings (2018) i Suddenly he thinks of me (2021), published in Llibres del Delicte, the writer and teacher Jordi Dausà (Cassà de la Selva, 1977) writes Rooster night (La Campana), a story about hypervigilance and hypertechnification as weapons of dehumanization focused on a technophobic protagonist with cosmic bad luck and eternal indecision.

Dedicated to Vicenç Pagès Jordà, the story has dystopian elements but does not belong to the science fiction genre. It begins with an intriguing first chapter in which there is a reversal of roles: Matt – a pharmacist addicted to omega-blockers – drives a battered car while the Taxi Driver is snoring toasty in the co-pilot’s seat. There are drones flying over the world. A black car follows him. At the end, the kind omniscient narrator warns us: “But don’t suffer, I’ll tell you how it got here.” Rooster night it is a flashback to reconstruct Matt’s journey until he flees Barcelona with the Taxi Driver weighing figs by his side. At times, the good of the narrator spares us “I don’t have time to explain” details.

We are in an empty and dying airport on Christmas night. Matt returns to Catalonia from Ireland, where he works as a teacher. He is waiting for Eloïsa, his 60-year-old friend who is a pharmacist like him: they will have dinner together with Vane and Coral. In a smart car that does what it wants and is equipped with interior cameras, autopilot and blood alcohol monitoring by a voice-over – “Sofia, one of the most popular home assistants” – the couple talks about the blatant (and not always good) changes in a current situation that for the reader is futuristic and very plausible based on a resounding economic depression: “Most of them lost their jobs because of the overpopulation of drones and the advances in artificial intelligence”. Matt distracts himself by contrasting the humanized landscape of Ireland with the gray and harsh Catalan hinterland. When he arrives at Eloise’s house, Matt realizes that he has taken the wrong suitcase. And this suitcase contains a package of cocaine that will give you more than one headache. Have the narcos used Matt as a mule or is it a simple logistical error at the airport?

Dausà speeds up the narrative pace as the chapters structured around the Christmas dinner and the morning of the next day pass, intrigues of thriller and increase the doses of the house’s trademark sense of humor. The only static element is the black car with people inside that is parked on the street while they eat dinner. Dausà starts the machinery of reflection – with a juicy language – to reach the conclusion that perhaps past times were better. He does this through an intense narrated inner monologue: Matt can’t stop rambling.

Quantum technology, holographic tattoos, ribonucleic modifications and nanomedicine, answering machines with misunderstandings, the rise of opiates and all kinds of addictions, the return of scabies, body chips, full-blown climate change, frequent suicides, mass abandonment of dogs, police more corrupt than ever, personalized advertising and algorithms but zero humanity in a planet where “laziness and comfort can do more than ideology”. No ecological awareness on a precarious planet. The artificial intelligence concentrated in the voice of Sofia – a key character of Rooster night– hovers over the entire book. In about fifteen years, will people have robots and digital assistants at home with all the joy in the world? Will we accept continuous monitoring of our privacy?

Source: Ara.cat – Portada by llegim.ara.cat.

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