ONE Every time the topic/question comes up –and it comes up often– in a crowded after-meal setting or on a bed spread alone, Rodríguez responds without hesitation. The question/riddle to reveal, in public and in private, is who you would like to be if you weren’t who you are.
And Rodríguez has no doubts: the first option is “almost anyone who is not me.”
The second option is Ringo Starr, whom Rodríguez (in addition to acknowledging his great talent and sympathy for only having needed a single, brief and perfect drum solo of just thirteen bars and more or less fifteen seconds) considers the luckiest guy in the history of mankind.
The third is Ripley.
TWO And when Rodríguez says Ripley, he is not referring to that somewhat clownish explorer of the Although you do not believe it! Nor does she fantasize about changing her sex and going out to fight aliens like the empowered Ellen Louise Ripley (and she’s still a long way from being born). No: Rodríguez refers to the forever unpunished Tom Ripley. Creature and creation of Patricia Highsmith and, surely, one of the most influential characters in literature. Ripley –likeable and detestable in equal parts but, finally, and almost from the beginning admired– is one of the first good-bad guys in fiction and an initiator in putting into practice that theory that only a fine line separates an honest amateur man of the most professional of criminals. Ripley who, in his own way, descends directly from those active witnesses who are the Ishmael fascinated by the passion of Herman Melville’s Ahab or the Nick Carroway seduced by the fantasy of Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby (because he always needs someone to help him). activate and mobilize him and turn him into the most vampirized of vampires) and without whom the later Hannibal Lecter or Patrick Bateman or Walter White or all those nice hitmen in, to name just a few, could not exist Grosse Pointe Black, Matador either Barry. And if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t want to so much Bill Murray or Christopher Walken. And what is it that makes Tom Ripley more Tom Ripley than anyone else? Easy and going back to the beginning: the irrepressible need to not to be Tom Ripley to, well, be able to be. Thus, we met him (and Rodríguez recognized himself in him) when he read the first of his adventures, until then better known as Full sun. Although, in the original and since 1955 (nothing is by chance, the same year that Vladimir Nabokov launches that exquisitely perverse Humbert Humbert of Lolita), entitled The Talented Mr. Ripley. And yes, attention, care: already from the title a murderer is praised. And that is what the novel is about: the talented Tom Ripley whose talent –executing between cold calculation and hot improvisation– is to demonstrate over and over again that crime not only pays but that it pays very well and in cash. .
THREE And so Rodríguez returned to the five novels of the beautiful monster and started at the beginning. And, of course, he remembered the plots and the character well; but not from grand style of Highsmith (whom I remembered, barely, as a master narrator) to illuminate her chiaroscuros, contradictions, occasional doubts and absolute certainties. And she immediately overcame a minimum moral qualm (which, surely, today makes it unacceptable for hypersensitive millennials) celebrate and envy his absolute happiness of bon vivant and his appreciation for all that is beautiful and therefore desirable in women and men.
And, yes, from time to time, someone comes to complicate your life. And Ripley has no choice but to return to simplify it and go out and get away with a kill or two. And then, of course, return to your chateau Belle Ombre, married to a rich heiress who has the impression that her husband doesn’t tell her everything he does, but he doesn’t seem to care much about knowing either, and it’s better that way and let him go about his little things and leave her alone.
And Rodriguez, again, was happy being Ripley once again.
And it must be said: with each of the novels that followed the first, their plots become more and more unlikely; but, at the same time, Ripley is more and more plausible and authentic and, of course, enviable and desirable and Ripley.
FOUR And, of course, wanting to be Ripley, you have to choose which of all the known Ripleys you want to be. Rodríguez was never convinced by Alain Delon (who, moreover, is caught at the changed end of the film); Dennis Hopper’s seemed more Hopper than Ripley; and Matt Damon’s, somewhat too fragile. His favorite (although, of course, already a little contaminated for his Valmont in dangerous friendships and his Gilbert Osmond in portrait of a lady) is the one played by John Malkovich in Ripley’s Game. Now, shortly and in series format, Ripley will return with the face of Andrew Scott (well chosen in principle: because he was both the Moriarty of sherlock like the loving priest terrified by the foxes of fleabag).
We’ll see, there’s time, Rodríguez tells himself.
Furthermore, although Rodríguez looks so much like Philip Seymour Hoffman (who in the version of The Talented Mr. Ripley by Anthony Minghella had the role of the unpleasant Freddie Miles whom Tom Ripley dispatches without delay), the good thing about wanting to be Ripley is that part of his talent lies in having the face of anyone and that anyone looks like him. You just have to cross that fine line to be like him.
FIVE And so Rodríguez continued to be, by reading osmosis, so talented when days ago (sneaking into the Anagrama press conference) Rodríguez was… uh… agency very in Ripley plan brand new edition of the Diaries and notebooks 1941-1995 by Patricia Highsmith. And, of course, everything is there. The young climber and sexual predator arriving in Manhattan. The possessive possessed with the same face contemplating itself in the distorting mirror of the pupil of others whom to manage and rewrite from, many times, the geographical or psychological foreigner. The creator of heroes and heroines (Rodríguez’s favorite book among all his is The counterfeit tremor) confused but at the same time recognizing and recognizing the abnormality of the normal or the normality of the abnormal. The genius and convinced that “Most people can not get by with the brains that have been granted” and that “The world is full of people who can not dominate or face it.” Patricia Highsmith, throughout her entire life, playing many Patricia Highsmiths without ever ceasing to be herself, and during the chimes of 12/31/47, she raises her glass and proclaims: “My New Year’s toast New: for all the demons, lusts, passions, greed, envy, hatred, strange desires, spectral and real enemies, the army of memories, with which I battle; I hope they never give me respite “.
And Rodríguez, moved, pushed him aside.
It was then that a dog bit the book and dove into the club’s swimming pool and released it to sink into the pale blue and chlorine bottom. And Rodríguez (at one point so ripleyesque) looked down there at the face of Patricia Highsmith, holding a cat, smiling at her from the abyssal depths of her talent, and having resolved that rotten old princely dilemma of to be or not to be. Response: be, but knowing how to be that other. That essential and definitive and perhaps unsuspected and suspicious but, in the end, guilty innocent or innocently guilty oneself.