A surreal life

Bensalem author releases new book ‘Vulnerable Excellence’ on Salvador Dali

The art of writing: Emiliano Martin, a native of Spain and resident of Bensalem, recently released Vulnerable Excellence – a 90-page chronology detailing the storied life of famed surrealist artist Salvador Dali. Samantha Bambino / Times Photo

When it comes to writing, Emiliano Martin is self-admittedly old-school. For the native of Spain and resident of Bensalem, typing on a laptop just doesn’t hold the same thrill as putting pen to paper…and crumpling it up and starting from scratch when a mistake is made.

In this meticulous fashion, Martin has created 40 manuscripts and nine books of poetry over the span of five decades. His latest work, released on July 30 to Amazon and other online shops, is Vulnerable Excellence – a 90-page chronology detailing the storied life of famed surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

“I’ve always been intrigued by his life, his whereabouts, how he acted in life, everything he did,” Martin told The Times. “How he got away with, I wouldn’t say murder, but so many things that nobody else could have done. Dali was fascinating.”

Martin’s love for the artist began during his childhood in Spain. Whenever a Dali cartoon or commercial came on television, Martin’s eyes were instantly glued to the screen. Over the years, Martin diligently absorbed all the information he could about Dali, who died in January 1989.

“He was an accomplisher. He painted more than 10,000 paintings, and he was involved in jewelry design, clothing design, movie design. He even worked with the architects in the reformation of an old castle as a gift for his wife,” Martin said. “He was really a character. I couldn’t help but to put it in writing.”

Vulnerable Excellence is a relatively quick read, with each chapter lasting only a few pages. According to Martin, there are countless lengthy biographies about Dali already in existence. Rather than give readers more of the same, he took a different route.

In the book, Martin spotlights key moments in Dail’s life, from birth to death. These include his expulsion from college after disagreeing with an instructor who said his paintings were no good, and his controversial marriage to divorcee Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, or Gala.

“It’s not necessarily a biography, but I do stay by the facts of his life,” Martin said. “Episodes like that are narrated throughout the book.”

These “episodes” are told to the reader through fictional conversations between Dali and Gala, and other friends and enemies of the artist.

“Even though I was not there personally, I think I have an idea of what they talked about,” Martin said.

According to Martin, approximately 50 percent of the content in Vulnerable Excellence was drawn from knowledge he had been acquiring since childhood.

“It was already impregnated in my mind,” he said. “Little by little, I started to put things together.”

The rest of the book came about after Martin’s friend, Mike Muir, asked for his assistance in producing a play about Dali for the Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center in 2018. The script was developed from more than 20 chapters by Martin, though the production and Vulnerable Excellence ultimately showcase different sides of Dali. While the play focuses on his bad habits, the book shies away from negativity.

“I try to be favorable to Dali’s contribution to art,” Martin explained. “I don’t want to bad mouth anyone. Anybody can do that. I wanted to focus on Dali the artist, and a little bit of the man. I think it came out very truthful.”

By the end of 2019, Martin hopes to release his next project. Temporarily titled Footprints of Spain in Philadelphia, the book will discuss the influence of Spaniards on the city, from colonial times to present day.

When he’s not writing, Martin plans to stay busy after recently retiring from a lengthy career in engineering. In addition to traveling abroad, he will continue his reign as president of the Pennsylvania Poetry Society, a title he has held since October 2018. ••

Vulnerable Excellence is available at books.google.com/books/about/VULNERABLE_EXCELLENCE.html?id=gu-kDwAAQBAJ, amazon.com/s?k=9780359803439&i=stripbooks&linkCode=qs and lulu.com/spotlight/poeta48.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com