The Short Stories of Samanta Schweblin – Some Thoughts

Samanta Schweblin is an Argentine author, one of Granta’s young Spanish language novelists. Little of her work is available in English except for the Granta piece and a story at Words Without Borders. I’ve had the chance to read the story at Words Without Borders and the four stories that are available in Spanish on her website and I have found them inventive and true to her goal, stories that border on the fantastic but could also be real (she explains this in her interview at Canal-l). Interestingly, I think the story at Words Without Borders is my favorite so if you are interested in reading her work you have the perfect opportunity. The story, Preserves, is about what might be called a reverse pregnancy. The character wants to delay her pregnancy and comes up with a unique method of doing it, only to find perhaps it wasn’t what she wanted. The story is obviously fantastic, but it shows her interest in using one element of the unexplainable and letting it reshape what might be an otherwise common story. Even in doing that, though, the story is actually mostly realistic in style. She’s not give to rhetorical flourishes and lets the element of the fantastic be the flourish. The work in Spanish I liked the most was Perdiendo Velocidad (Loosing Velocity). It is a micro story of no more than 1000 words about a a human canon ball who is loosing velocity. Really, he is loosing his desire to live, but it is as if to be a cannon ball is the only thing he can be. It shows a good ability to grasp just the essential details. I almost debated buying the book last summer, but I decided I have enough Spanish language short story collections that are unread to keep me busy for a while. However, I think I will try to check it out when the pile shrinks again. I’m finding these semi fantastic stories are a nice change from the well written stories about suburban decay.