Carrère vs. Baricco

On the 18th of March, Scuola Holden welcomed Emmanuel Carrère, one of the more noted contemporary French writers, who held an open conversation with the Italian writer Alessandro Baricco about their own crafts and creations

carrere-baricco

 

The evening at Piazza Borgo Dora began in the General Store of Scuola Holden with a packed auditorium eager to attend to the match of two master players of the storytelling courts. Actually, the event moderator Marco Missiroli warned Carrère and Baricco that the evening would be more alike to a tennis game than to a literary conversation as he would propose a list of ten different words that each of them would have to attack or defend in the net.

These were the ten highlighted match episodes of the evening Carrère vs. Baricco:

 

1. Craft

Baricco

Writing is for me a physical job, a job where you use your hands, since the word for it deals with an organic matter. I do think it’s a trade between both intelligence and body, in which one gets dirty, sweaty, smelly. That’s how I always imagined this craft.

Carrére

We all have, as writers, different gastronomic tastes and different ways to create our own recipe. Sometimes, I have the impression that writers might feel envy about painters or sculptors because they actually work with real material while writers only have words, spinning words with which each writer creates his/ her own recipe.

2. Inquiry

Baricco

I am a writer who works on a hint. In order to write, we have to be enchanted or influenced by a hint.

Carrére

I think that writing is only worth as a continuos inquiry.

3. Third person point of view

Carrère

For me, the third person point of view is something that comes up naturally in my books. It is not intended at all.

Baricco

Whichever point of view I might start a story with needs for me a changing gear up to page 100 as I get absolutely bored of it.

4. Narrative faith

Baricco

I am the faith

Carrère

I am the willpower.

5. Loss

Carrére

I understand loss not only in the dimension of losing something but also as a way in which we get lost into something. In order to discover new findings, a book must be somehow written out of certain sense of abandonment. The writer must entrust her/himself to something unknown that will guide her/ him. That guiding force could be anything: God, the unconscious, destiny, mistery.

Baricco

I have the need to lose what I write by somewhow  killing it. Some years ago, I was watching an Elton John’s concert on TV and Elton John was there the best Elton John. He did not seem tired nor disenchanted or cynic. He was just playing his guitar as it would have been his first time, playing the same songs he had played during the last fifteen years. In my case, once I make a song I don’t want to sing it anymore in my life. I cannot imagine myself singing Seta year after year. I need to kill and get rid of everything I create.

6. Cinema and Real World

Carrère

I generally involve myself as a character in my books and most of my books are, at the same time, a melting pot for both fiction and reportage. This is what I just did in my last novel dealing with the Russian leader Limónov and this is an inner part of my literature: the presence of the real world. Regarding cinema, I must say that each time I’ve had the opportunity to work in a movie I realised that what I enjoy the most in the world is writing.

Baricco

The experience of working on cinema (either as cameraman, scriptwriter or lighting designer) continuously transforms the writer’s craft as well as his/ her own sight.

7. Adversaries

Carrère

One of my worst adversaries is the awareness of knowing that I am writing a book. When I have this awareness a sort of literary superego emerges and forces me to write something that must be good. So, I totally try to convince myself that I am not writing a book at all but that I am only writing loose phrases.

Baricco

I am convinced that, at the beginning, we all write against someone. Thus, adversaries are absolutely necessary because it is hard to reach the bottom of this craft without that challenge. Writers are irresponsable just as the Formula 1 drivers: they don’t feel fear, they have no time to fear until they crash. However, the adversary we continuosly struggle against is writing itself.

8. Lighthouses

Carrère

I personally find my own source of inspiration in facts as well as in the real world: in reportage, journalism, chronycles, history. Those are my personal lighthouses.

Baricco

I’ve never had the need to be saved by anything from outside as my own lighthouses have always been placed out of my writing room. I am a calm writer because I don’t  risk my life by the act of writing to the point that I could totally go on without it. However,  I do think that Holden has been a breath of life for me.

9. “So the last shall be first”. Cristianity

Carrère

Cristianity always teaches us the contrary that we have learned in life: to be weak instead of being strong, to be the last instead of being the first. And I do agree. I think Cristianity does right to encourages us to do so.

Baricco

Several decades ago, I was so Catholic that I had even lost all sense of humour. After overcoming all my personal conflicts with religion,  I recognised that Cristianity is one of the most successful examples of storytelling in human history.

10. The second service of the tennis player: Courage

Baricco

I haven’t ever been in the situation to serve for a second time. I am a one service writer.

Carrère 

I honestly don’t know what to say.

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