Although much ink has been devoted to sex, sagas like â€śStories of a married manâ€ť and â€śAquilesâ€ť address a moor that few authors have passed through â€śnon-heteronormative sexuality.â€ť Gonzalo NarvreĂłn and Aquiles lead Gonzalo NarvreĂłn, the writer, where his appetite takes them. We talked to Gonzalo Alcaide NarvreĂłn about these two successful series.
Why write two sagas, in which the protagonists are bisexual men, sexuality so little visible and even resisted?
Interesting question and I would say that the answer is even implicit. Much has been written about sex, although not so much about bisexuality. As you mentioned, itâ€™s a subject that is not very visible and even resisted by both straights and gay men. That was precisely why I found it attractive, entertaining, and fun to face the challenge of immersing myself in this subject and getting into the skin of the protagonists.
Although it was not premeditated, your question makes me think that perhaps, precisely because itâ€™s a resisted theme, that the experiences lived by Gonzalo (the protagonist) have been with bisexual men, I had never thought of it this way. At least in â€śFlying Southâ€ť and â€śThe men next doorâ€ť, that’s what happens; his “accomplices” are bisexual men who are married or in a relationship with women, precisely because he is clear that they are his peers. They understand that family is one thing and that the desire to enjoy sex with other men is another, beyond the fact that it may only be about sex or that perhaps other kinds of bonds may arise in which deeper feelings emerge. This does not imply that the protagonist refuses to establish relationships with openly gay men; in fact, these types of relationships are mentioned in â€śLifting the veils.â€ť
Anyway, I don’t like â€ślabels or ghettosâ€ť of any kind. I would say that I agree with what Manuel Puig said in â€śEl error gayâ€ť an essay that I find even essential reading for those who want to talk about sexuality and pretend to put labels on it.
The series â€śStories of a Married Manâ€ť is made up of three different books. Do they have a chronological order?
Not necessarily, although some of the books may mention some episode or character that appears in the others, I would say no. In any case, the order according to when they were written is â€śFlying Southâ€ť â€śThe Men next doorâ€ť and finally, â€śLifting the veilsâ€ť
When you wrote â€śFlying Southâ€ť did you know that two other books would follow?
To tell you the truth, I had never thought of writing even one… I had written many loose stories; some of them were developed in two or three chapters, which I published in places where this kind of material is shared. Surprisingly -and in a short time- I found that many followers began to make encouraging comments and even asked for the return of characters that had stopped appearing in some chapter. That’s when I decided to take the story from a third-person format to a dialogue structure and to have Gonzalo takes the helm of the story.
After three hundred pages, and to my regret, I decided that the story should be closed, although I had many ideas left to work on and that is how â€śThe Men next doorâ€ť and â€śLifting the veilsâ€ť came about.
It is striking that the character in your first book is named the same as the writer. Is there any similarity between one and the other?
As it was my first experience writing a book, it came to me without thinking too much that the protagonist would be called Gonzalo; Perhaps because it was narrated in the first person, it was easier for me to do so. Later in the story, I could no longer modify it; Gonzalo and Diego had grown up and they were planted there to stay.
About similarities, Gonzalo’s character is absolutely thrown, in a way, daring. A serious man on the street and uninhibited within four walls. He fervently believes that before the call of wild and primitive instincts, any man ends up crossing the line between heterosexuality and bisexuality. He knows the winks to detect certain situations; he is greatly amused by double meanings and ambiguities in situations related to sexual issues. He lives stages of calm, in which his heterosexuality dominates, and others, in which his desire to be with other men blossoms strongly and even becomes the axis of his thoughts.
Gonzalo Writer is also extremely sexual; I would say that his sexuality is as powerful as his imagination, although he is probably a little more conservative than Gonzalo the protagonist.
A moment ago you mentioned Manuel Puig;1 it seems that since his death only Osvaldo BazĂˇn has been encouraged to write stories of romance between men.
I think it is directly related to a socio-cultural issue, fundamentally to the fear of facing “what they will say” and the way society looks at certain issues. Manuel Puig1 was very clear about who he was and was encouraged to talk about subjects that were extremely difficult for the time. Osvaldo BazĂˇn3 has nothing to hide either, his sexuality is publicly known, so I imagine that nothing could make him uncomfortable when writing stories about romances between men. He is a journalist and knows the cloth because he practices his own homosexuality, so it seems even logical to me that he would exploit that vein. Although there are still prejudices and a lot of “prudishness”, we are not in the witch-hunt era and the subject is seen daily and at all times in the media. Many may not understand, may not agree, but I believe that today almost no one can be horrified by seeing or reading about these issues.
In any case, it should be clarified that, although I have a vision and an opinion formed on all these issues, as we all do, it was never my idea to go impose the line or to take sides on one or another election, if “sexuality could be chosen”. â€śFlying Southâ€ť is a story from beginning to end, with situations that go beyond the sexual. Its content is absolutely explicit, without metaphors or subliminal messages. It does not talk about love, it talks about pure, wild, and uncovered sex, mixed with human relationships between “normal” people, a term I abhor. If we were to think of adapting the book for the theater or the cinema, I would probably have to polish it up with a thick stone.
â€śThe Men next doorâ€ť Â is even more explicit than â€śFlying South.â€ť Since they are short stories, even allowing to glimpse the feelings and experiences of their protagonists, sex is the axis and is explicitly described. Honestly, I don’t worry too much about how to label or pigeonhole what I write; if I am interested in and rewarded by the returns of my readers when they comment that my way of narrating makes them feel like the protagonists of the stories; that is very comforting to me.
In any case, if I had to label what I write, I would say that it is “pornographic literature”; “eroticism” is out of place, although for some time now I have defined it as “Eroticism made into words”. Let’s say it’s “Explicit literature.”
You,Â Gonzalo NarvreĂłn, already have six books in your career, would you like to tell us about your writing process?
One of the resources I use, which I have already mentioned and which is infallible to me to transmit sensations, describe places, spaces, aromas, climates, etc., is to fit the stories and their characters in places I have visited, in places I have traveled to or within experiences I have lived, even if they are not necessarily the same ones the protagonist is living. That’s where I get in touch with the memories, I put the story in and the words begin to flow on their own. I begin to amalgamate the stories with the places. If the protagonist had to take a flight to a place where I have never been, I investigate where the airport is, the flight schedules, what the destination is like, the weather at that time of the year, the distances between the different places where the protagonist will be, etc. With that information, the stories begin to flow; I cannot sit down and say that Gonzalo or Aquiles took the 1:00 pm flight without knowing that that flight exists, what the flight number is, how long the trip lasts. It may even seem silly to know if the flight exists or not, but to me, it is a necessary piece of information to be able to create the context of the story.
Sometimes I sit down in front of the blank paper with some thoughtful ideas and when I start writing, it usually happens that the characters start dictating the texts to me; we go this way, we go that way and the sheets start filling up.
In Aquiles’ case, I started only knowing what was going to happen to him at a certain moment in the story, but I had never imagined or planned for the rest of the characters. They started to appear on their own and unexpected things began to happen to Aquiles, which gave me the lyrics to continue writing.
When I wrote â€śFlying South,â€ť I thought it would only be that one book and it ended up being three; with Aquiles and already having the experience of â€śStories of a Married Man,â€ť I didn’t plan anything and I let the story flow and get caught, and it has! When I wrote â€śAquiles and his chained Tigerâ€ť the second in the saga, I reached four hundred pages and decided to close it, leaving a lot of material to continue the story in â€śAquiles, breaking chains.â€ť
Since you mention Aquiles, would you like to tell us a little more about him?
Sure. Aquiles and his friends, a group that has really managed to hook me, just as it happened several years ago with Gonzalo in the main role and Diego in â€śFlying South.â€ť Aquiles was almost a â€śco-creationâ€ť with the readers who had been hooked by the saga of the â€śStories of a Married Manâ€ť and who told me about their experiences, their desires, their fantasies, frustrations, etc. They made me understand that there is an enormous number of adult men who perhaps feel identified with Gonzalo because they have experienced similar situations, and many others who have done so only in their fantasies, men who have not dared to release the call of their own nature and who would like to do so. Here Aquiles is born, who has nothing to do with Gonzalo; rather he is the opposite pole in terms of his sexuality. While Gonzalo goes through his bisexuality assuming it -sometimes also suffering it-, Aquiles is a straight man who, going through his fourth decade of life, never considered or felt interested in anything but the opposite gender, until something fortuitous happens and there a new story starts.
The first difference between Storiesâ€¦ and Aquilesâ€¦ is that, in the first saga, although some paragraphs refer to the previous books, as I have already mentioned, they can be read independently from each other. On the contrary, Aquilesâ€¦ is a story from beginning to end, which begins with â€śAquilesâ€¦ a curious straightâ€ť continues with â€śAquiles and his chained tigerâ€ť follows â€śAquiles, breaking chainsâ€ť and will have a fourth volume, which is what I am working on at the moment and, although I have an idea going around, I have not yet defined what it will be called. (*)
Another big difference between the saga of Storiesâ€¦ and Aquilesâ€¦ is that, in parallel with his sexuality, in Aquiles, his environment, his work, his friends, and his family take on greater importance. Each one of them, to a greater or lesser degree, is gaining prominence and their psychology and that of their women is being understood; some secrets begin to appear that, despite knowing each other all their lives, they kept well guarded. In front of what starts happening to him, Aquiles knows with whom he can talk to vent and to whom he must hide what is happening to him. I find extremely interesting and amusing the interrelationship between the four friends and their respective wives, the dialogues that arise amid daily meetings, and the disparate positions, according to liberal against other more conservative ones. At the same time, one of his employees, Alejandro, who is ten years younger than Aquiles, takes on a crucial role in the story. He also has his group of friends, so there are many characters involved in this saga. We will see how it ends.
(*) The fourth book of the saga “Aquiles, releasing moorings” is already published in Spanish.
Note: The books of both sagas are originally written in Spanish and â€śAquilesâ€¦ a curious straightâ€ť is already edited in English. The writer is working on the translation of the other books.
 Juan Manuel Puig DelledonneÂ (Buenos Aires, December 28, 1932 – Mexico, July 22, 1990) was an Argentine writer of worldwide relevance for his novels Boquitas pintadas [Painted Boobs] El beso de la mujer araĂ±a [The Kiss of the Spider Woman] and Pubis angelical [Angelic Pubis]
 â€śEl error gayâ€ť [“The gay mistake,”] â€ś… I am convinced that sex has absolutely no transcendent moral meaning. Furthermore, sex is innocence itself; It is a game invented by Creation to bring joy to people. But only that: a game, an activity of vegetative life such as sleeping or eating, as important as those functions, but equally devoid of moral weight. Banal, morally speaking. Therefore, identity cannot be defined based on sexual characteristics, since it is a fairly banal activity. Homosexuals do not exist. There are people who practice sexual acts with subjects of the same gender, but that fact should not define them because it has no meaning…â€ť
 Argentine journalist and writer.
Thanks Gonzalo NarvreĂłn