Jarred McGinnis (born in New Mexico, 57 years old) is a writer in a wheelchair who writes a novel about a young man who, like him, has had a traffic accident that has left him a paraplegic. The injured person is also called Jarred, but it is not him… although it is (in part): “It is a novel and I wanted people to make it clear that it is a novel and not think, in any case, that they were memoirs or an essay. But as an author with a disability who writes about a disability, it was clear that I would be associated with this character, whatever name I gave him.” Therefore, Jarred (McGinnis) decided that the young man would also be called Jarred.
The novel in question is the covard (Periscopi) and narrates the experience of this Jarred during the first months in a wheelchair. Jarred (McGinnis) had to remember what it felt like in those early days, which is what the book portrays, “because he was in the accident twenty years ago.
“I am interested in trauma; We have to learn to be comfortable with our vulnerability.”
He didn’t write it as personal therapy, but it helped him: “I don’t think writing is therapeutic, it doesn’t have to be, but in this situation it was. Writing this book also allowed me to appease many ghosts, because it made me think about a disability that I didn’t have, because I spent too much time thinking that I was disabled. And here literature as an artistic formula has great strength, because it allows you to explore human psychology and the weight of conscience in depth. For me it was a kind of therapy and I hope that it will also help people who do not have any disabilities to understand it a bit”.
A situation, that of being a paraplegic, that is shown without embellishment or self-pity, because the book is full of grotesque situations or black humor that, perhaps, only a person with a disability could write: “Jarred has a hard time knowing that others do they are treating you as a disabled person, when your mind is not, disabled, it is just the body. And he is fascinating. I keep dreaming that I walk, and that fascinates me. There is something in my brain that still sees my identity as a body without disabilities.”
But the novel goes much further and portrays the fragility of the relationship between a father (Jack) and a son, who haven’t seen each other for years and now have to do it… with a wheelchair involved. Both have changed over time, but they need time to accept each other. Jarred’s nonsense and impertinence put the reader more on Jack’s side: “Jarred really is a bore and he is because he is experiencing mourning and grief and enormous guilt. He is a destroyed man; he was already broken. I hope that the readers will tolerate him, so that they understand where this pain is coming from, but at the same time, you will also have seen that Jack is super patient, very kind to him and, therefore, I hope that the reader identifies with him. father. Later, when you discover Jack’s past, you also begin to better understand Jarred and why he suffers this pain. It is a love story between father and son, who love each other, but the family is torn apart.”
Part of Jack’s penance and recovery hangs on the hours he spends in a kind of sanctuary where he heals from injuries: in the greenhouse, growing orchids:
Much of the chance of reconciliation depends on a person who is already dead, Jarred’s mother and Jack’s wife, who the two remember with a different estimation. And part of Jack’s penance and recovery hangs on the hours he spends in a kind of sanctuary where he heals from wounds: in the greenhouse, growing orchids: “Jack stops drinking because he transferred this need to drink to take care of the flowers , the orchids. And when Jarred comes back, Jack does what he knows worked for him; he’s trying to get Jarred interested in orchids and there are these times when they’re together and working together, instead of arguing.”
This fondness for orchids comes to McGinnis from his great-grandfather, who was a gardener and who invented a “very difficult” variety, Richard Muller, which was his brother’s name. It is likely that he has some early memories of entering his greenhouse and that is why wherever he travels I always look for this orchid ”.
The delicacy of these plants symbolizes the fragility of the relationship between father and son and how the efforts to live together are being sewn and unstitched. At one point in the book, McGinnis comes to say that being a father is constantly screwing up: “Hahaha. In Catalan it sounds much better and I will change it to the English version, so that it comes out in Catalan,” says McGinnis, who appreciates the work of the translator, Anna Llisterri: “All my thanks and admiration for the translator, because in the end it is her work, because from some dialogues that are very American there is a very specific way of how father and son speak. And if it has come to you in Catalan, it means that she has understood the book well and that she has done a good job”.
The novel is a “roller coaster of emotions”, and although everything happens in a very normal family, the characters have been on the limits of crime or transgression of social norms. When asked how he managed to fit them in, McGinnis, who is an American who has British nationality and lives in Marseille, is blunt: “The United States is already a pretty extreme place in itself. It is easy to fall outside these limits to the United States, yes. But these stories exist and I think they really have to be explained. I’ve always really liked small lives. I think we all have traumas in life; mine is more obvious. So I’m interested in trauma, I think we all have and need to talk about it, instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. We have to be comfortable with our vulnerability.”