Sunday, October 27, 2013

Vadim Babenko – Stories Behind My Books: Laura

Stories behind my books: Laura

by Vadim Babenko

Many years ago, in Buenos Aires, I made friends with Jorge, a journalist with one of the city’s newspapers. He specialized in articles about cars and was creative – he submitted his reviews as the impressions of a made-up character, twenty-year-old Laura, a tango dancer from Almagro. To the soulless cars she imparted bright and precise characteristics, telling about her trips in the automobiles of her lovers and friends – along with stories of her life full of men, tango, and adventures.

A week prior to my departure, Jorge acquainted me with his girlfriend, Agustina, a beauty from a rich family. “She only loves me for my articles,” he joked as he presented us to each other. “No,” Agustina smiled. “I only love you for Laura.” We laughed a bit at that joke.

A couple of days later I saw Jorge again. He spoke of Agustina and how they had met. She tracked him down herself at the office of that same newspaper, told him she adored his work, then invited him to lunch… “See, she really does love you for Laura,” I jested, but it didn’t come across as a joke. Jorge didn’t even crack a smile.

I returned to Buenos Aires three months later. The city was the same, but Jorge had become a different man. He looked bad and drank heavily. He told me Agustina was exhausting him with her fits. He complained she was forcing him to write about Laura, though he had long since tired of the character and wanted to switch to something new. “I don’t have the strength to fight with Aggie,” he confessed. “Of course, she’s not entirely well…”

The situation was clear, though it was quite strange. Agustina took to the image of Laura like a drug. Laura was everything Agustina was not and could not be. Reading about the girl from Almagro it was as if she lived another life.

Thus the romance was changed to drama. And then to tragedy – in a few weeks. Jorge left Buenos Aires – simply fled, finding work in Mendoza. Agustina tried to commit suicide, and wound up in a hospital for the insane… That was no soap opera, it actually happened. It was a real story that looked like fantasy. A story provoked by fantasies that appeared too real. I could not judge Jorge’s articles – my Spanish was too poor. But it looked like he had genuine talent.

While working on SEMMANT I sent him greetings in my mind. Or rather, my hero sent him greetings while inventing Adele.

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – NC17

More details about the author & the book

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