At my maternal grandparents’ house, next to a good library with 19th century classics and 20th century best sellers, the gossip was read. Along with Hola and Lecturas, there was no shortage of Semana magazine, which I leafed through with somewhat guilty curiosity after having finished reading a Balzac or a Harold Robbins.

Before delving into the vicissitudes of Julio Iglesias or Lola Flores, I found in the Madrid publication the weekly article by its director Luis G. de Linares “Tiempo presente”, which I used to skip because it was a thoughtful reflection on current affairs, alien to the tone pink and light that opened below. That is why it has caught my attention to find that Linares himself, but many years before, is one of the stars of Los años amarillos, the new journalism anthology from the 1930s that Sergi Doria has prepared and is published by Edhasa.

My friend Sergi knows everything about the lively news service prior to the Spanish Civil War. He did his doctoral thesis on the Barcelona graphic weekly Imatges, which he summarized in a book for La Campana. In Edhasa, he has published two previous compilations that are pleasant to read: A country in crisis (2018), focused on the sociopolitical sphere, and Women on the Front Page (2020), on the role of female journalists.

In the introduction to Los años amarillos, Doria explains that in this volume that closes the trilogy, “how Spain throbbed between the exhibitions of 1929 and the tragedy of 1936” is captured; recalls the origin of the term “yellow press” as a synonym for sensationalist in the US channel Hearst, and clarifies that it is often confused with a popular reporting that claims, and in which “we will not find major events but we will find issues hidden behind the walls or inside the rooms, episodes of dangerous living, disturbing environments, prodigious characters, the usual picaresque, chronicle of events and those ‘human interest’ stories of a lifetime”.

Let’s go back to the young Luis G. de Linares. Born in 1904, he joined the weekly Estampa in 1929. The Yellow Years includes several of his reports, written in the first person with a dynamic and dialogue style, far from the solemn tone of the time of the Week.

The vision they offer of the Spain of the moment is tremendous. In “A town whose inhabitants have six fingers” he delves into a village in Somosierra whose locals, in a high percentage, “suffer from an atavistic and mysterious monstrosity”, the one reflected in the title that the journalist sees firsthand, and never better said. .

Next, his series “Artificial paradises in Madrid” is in line with the French reporting of Joseph Kessel and Albert Londres: the reporter goes into the intricacies of the distribution and consumption of “coco”, morphine and opium (this one in a grotesque Chinese den), from the hand of addicts and shady characters like Rosita, “very vicious and who liked perverse love affairs”.

Linares confirms -already in 1930- that prohibitionism without compensation has only increased the problem. Off-road informant, we will find him again in La Tranquilidad, “the café of the Barcelona revolutionaries”, and interviewing the mentalist Aris, who drives through Valencia blindfolded accompanied by his medium Miss Fakara.

Along with those of Luis G. de Linares, who before and after the war made a career as director of various media outlets and press attaché in Spanish embassies, we find in the anthology articles by other figures who have recovered, such as Francisco Madrid -the author of ‘Blood in Shipyards’-, Irene Polo or Ana María Martínez Sagi, and others less known such as Vicente Sánchez Ocaña, Ignacio Carral and Magda Donato.

They take us to the Apache neighborhood of Marseille or to the women’s prison in Madrid; we know with them the adventures of the father of the black market; the transsexual Madame Georgette; the executioner Casimiro, and the sad end of the circus artist Sacha Lyo.

They are texts full of life. Aroma of a fascinating, unruly and truncated era.