When Juan Cruz was a boy who studied in a poorly equipped school in Puerto de la Cruz, on the north coast of Tenerifeone of the priests who took care of his education reprimanded him one day for his poor academic performance and, in front of all his classmates, he said loudly and clearly: “Juan Cruz Ruiz runs the risk of losing the scholarship, because he is living in poverty”. It was the brutal way he had the system to remind that sick kid what was the place that corresponded to him in post-war Canarian society. The refined revenge of the boy Juan Cruz was to study until he saw his name on the school’s honor roll. And read, read it all. And start writing.
Long-standing journalist, writer and poet who since last February has held the position of deputy to the presidency of Pensa Ibérica, the publishing group to which this same newspaper belongs, Juan Cruz Ruiz (1948) has been writing all his life, from the day he copied the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling, in the Spanish translation by Jacinto Miquelarena, on a masonry wall in his house. And it would be said that all those years of writing have been a preparation to arrive at the novel ‘One thousand two hundred steps’ (Alfaguara), an album of childhood memories that mixes autobiography, phantasmagoria and fiction for illustrate a particularly dark moment in the history of Spain. “It’s the most serious and the most important thing I’ve ever written,” she says.
A 73 year old boy
Cruz presents ‘One thousand two hundred steps’ at the Laie bookstore in Barcelona, surrounded by friends and readers (and, above all, reader friends). In the smiling look and the passionate and digressive verb of this 73-year-old man who talks about his book with the writer Olga Merino and the journalist Alex Salmon That boy from the Canary Islands, poor and asthmatic, who, without knowing it, I looked in words and in friends for a way to escape from the kingdom of fear and barbarism. “I have never grown up,” she affirms, before inviting the complicit laughter of the audience with a playful allusion to his short stature.
The writer explains that the novel was born from a rather sinister memory: that of one of the members of his gang of neighborhood boys. hitting his head against the wall of an orchard until leaving a mark of blood. “I wanted to talk about all those kids who had brutal fun, in the literal sense, because they lived in a brutal world.” A world marked by the perplexity of living in poverty without being very aware that there are other ways of living. “We were not unhappy children, but we did not know what happiness was either”point.
Cruz believes that Spanish society has not known, or has not wanted, to make a rigorous analysis of what happened in the post-war period and what traces he left, especially in the neighborhoods far from the center. “In Spain, the post-war period lasted so long that we forgot about it”, says the writer, who assures that today his hair stands on end when he hears the representatives of the far right request, for example, the expulsion of unaccompanied minors who come from outside . “There was a day when those children were us. And in our own territory.” That, too, is ‘One thousand two hundred steps’.
‘Twelve hundred steps’
Author John Cruz Ruiz