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The Importance of Ernest Resurfaced in Órgiva – James Storbakken

May 8, 2022 | Non Fiction | 0 comments

The dusty streets don’t care, nor do the local residents, but the blatant fact is that the town is full of thousands of hippies. And in this little Andalusian village on the hillside, Órgiva, nestled within the smooth, barren ridges and dry, olive-filled hills of the Guadalfeo Valley, toenailed amongst the dull foothills just south of the Sierra Nevada, there lives only one beatnik. One beatnik and a couple thousand hippies. And this beatnik, his name is The Narrator.

One can usually find this dusty, siempre black clothes donning, beret wearing beatnik out on the streets of central Órgiva by the northside plaza every Thursday afternoon during Órgiva’s weekly farmer’s market. The rest of the week he’s up in his shabby Cortijo, writing poetry and stories and reading literature written by the Lost Generation and the Beat Generation and also literature written by the Dadaists and the Imagists. He mingles with the hippies and the locals, and generally makes himself as simultaneously busy and useless as the long-haired, dreadlock-sprouting majority, though he intones his vibration here and there among the swaying flocks with a much different flavor and odor, as it stands. For our Narrator simply enjoys a nice drink now and then, and simply enjoys reading his books under the shade of one of the many Sycamores or a stale-fruited Orange tree. He is not your usual afternoon drum-circle attendee, nor is he a Joplin fan. He prefers cigarette butts extracted thoughtfully from the leftover piles around the Peppercorn located in the village’s eastside park and, in the evenings, listening Miles Davis. For, as we have pointed out declaratively, he is the only beatnik in the town. For this reason, and for this reason alone, he never stands out, really. He damn well blends right in, as well as any culture-graphed sonuvabitch blends along the slim Orange tree lined streets. Look, there he is sitting by one of the few red-and-white checkerboard tables on the corner of Pl. Garcia Moreno and C. Real at the Café Pizzeria Decurtis. Surrounded, as it is to become usual for us as a group to see and experience, and by us as a group I mean us as the conglomerate reader-audience-avant-garde poet waiting-room conversationalists, there at the Café Pizzeria by a group of about two dozen hippies. They fill the sidewalk-scattered tables and chat away peacefully. Our Narrator is sipping a long coffee con leche and reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. He might as well find out for himself where Órgiva’s Ezra Pound was hiding, statistically speaking, so thinks The Narrator. Though it is, surprisingly, considering the styles and the mono-platonic and inter-generational platitudes of the village, the year 2022. It smells like 1972 or thereabouts, but it is definitely not Paris in the 1930s. Three and a half thousand hippies and a beatnik. Who gave him that Hemingway? A thrift store over by the school on the hilltop, the same place he found a couple of paperback Oscar Wildes. This Narrator and third-person dimensional double combination shall continue to facilitate a contractor-builder relationship page by page as they constructively design the shifting forms and the florescent carpentry of the story and theme. The Narrator must here mention the unobvious fact that such a scheme is not to be compared in any way to any thing related to any of Marcel Proust’s masterworks, his personal and philosophical convictions, nor his themes. Here in Órgiva, dispatched under the Andalusian sun, we have a story to cover. The story, simply put, is a personal essay on the collected works of Ernest Miller Hemingway. I’ve recently, quite surprisingly, fallen back into a deep enjoyment of his work. We now espy The Narrator over on the corner writing something in his breast pocket notebook, and just in time. Just in time for our little adventure in playing The Reviewer, or The Critic, or so we think. One mask among many. He has been thinking quietly with himself for about the past ten to fifteen minutes now, sipping his long coffee con leche and thinking retrospectively about the years and palely staring with a bleak, but beautiful, face down Pl. Garcia Moreno in the general direction of the Iglesia Parroquial Nuestra Señora de la Expectación.

He is currently, there under the golden afternoon sunlight, writing the following short.

Every time I begin a new literary venture, with a new or already well-acquainted author, I allow myself the naïvety of not looking in the alternatively offered direction of maintaining a classic, straight-forward logic meanwhile. For, if I were to, at any time during the aforesaid venture, look in that direction, I would then immediately fall upon the blinding act of seeing, I am sure, the many reasons behind my action; the many reasons why I feel enthroned whenever I sit upon the simple act experiencing a reader’s delicious, subtle hunger for an author’s work; the many reasons which, if they were to be enumerated, would contain the timelines of astrology and physics and the moon-cycles and psychoanalytic results and the like. No, I step in the direction of my wildest dreams without thinking twice, that is, with a full amount of conscious will-power, in the direction of deep introspection and literary researching, in the direction where the both of them may walk hand-in-hand in the most mutual and the most cooperative manner. Quite recently, just the other day, something miraculous happened. After rereading his A Farewell to Arms rather sporadically over the past week, I’ve become enthused about Hemingway. I know, I know, it’s a real stretch, the blunted bastard, but let me tell you why…..

For the next two hours The Narrator sat outside the Café Pizzeria Decurtis in a crowd of Lennon-like flower children and he wrote. He filled his breast pocket notebook full to the brim. He wrote, among other things, a fine piece admonitory and intelligent literary criticism, a pert, experienced overview of Hemingway’s works, above all A Farewell to Arms, and the values they inspire. After relishing a small plate of tapas he rose from the uncomfortable aluminum chair in which he had been somewhat comfortably sitting, paid for one long coffee con leche and one tostada, and set off down the street in the direction of the Iglesia Parroquial Nuestra Señora de la Expectación. When he arrived back home he opened the door of his refrigerator and took out a beer. He then took out his breast pocket notebook and set it down on the kitchen table, contented with its presence. It’s pure art, he remarked thoughtfully to himself as he looked at the pages filled with his own scribbled writing. He opened the beer. Full to the brim, he said warmly to himself, sipping the foam off the can’s top. Life, full to the brim. He wiped his mouth roughly. He sat down with the beer after washing a few of the dirty dishes which had stacked themselves up after a few long nights of insomniac Jazz and Spanish marijuana. He thought long and hard about the life he was living, that of a Narrator. That of an expatriate American living the life of a beatnik. A real poet’s manifesto dancing a filibuster’s flamenco on its own two feet, as it portraits or pictures the undying, self-gratifying grays. The special selections. He opened the notebook, and read.

I suppose Joan Dideon respected him for about the same reasons. He did lead it all somewhere, what with his Tetris-faced prose and his barroom semantics. I cannot say that I completely agree with Thomas Wolfe on this account, though, as far as the barroom semantics go. I don’t really think Hemingway is all that bad; not as dumb as Wolfe made him out to be, nor as bland and two-dimensional as Kerouac had once described him to be. It is here I would point out, considering especially his A Farewell to Arms and all of his Nicholas Adams stories, the fact that there is, as they say, a subtle genius behind his writing style. It is only now, here exiled in Spain, that I am finally accepting and realizing and even trying on its power, its influence, and its grace, among other things….



James Storbakken

James Storbakken


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