Fracture by Andrés Neuman – A Review

Andrés Neuman
Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia, trans
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020

Andrés Neuman is many writers; novelist, poet, short story author, and through the range of his diverse works he has shown immense talent and versatility. I first came to his works via the short story, and it is in the short form I know his work best. In short works he’s more experimental, and yet also personal, finding in the brief images of a story, the memories, the personalities, of those around us. The same sense of the personal also show up in his short novel, Talking to Ourselves. Although not as experimental in form, the narration showed an inventiveness in the perspective shifts, refining the story in fragments of lives that seemed lived by real people. But Neuman is also a different kind of writer, one attuned the historical and political. From his blog posts to his untranslated work Barbarismos, a dictionary of  dark, alternate definitions, he is well attuned to the way language and politics intertwine.

To date he has written two novels that, if not fall into these broad categories, at least lean heavily in that direction: Traveler of the Century, and the latest, Fracture. Fracture is takes place over the last 75 years, starting with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and ending with the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Told around the story of Yoshie Wantanabe, Neuman constructs a story that which examines the major historical events in Japan, Western Europe, and particularly the United States. Alternating between a third person account of  Wantanabe’s experience at Hiroshima and his later Journey to Fukushima, and the reminiscences of three ex-girlfriends, there are detailed descriptions of the anti-nuclear movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the Argentine financial collapse, Chernobyl, and too many others to describe. Suffice it to say, if one of the narrators wasn’t there, they had an opinion. Where Traveler of the Century wanted to dig into the liberal tradition in Europe, Fracture is interested in the atomic age as both a metaphor and a problem that is still with us, not something consigned to the past. Given the real dangers of nuclear war, waste, and accidents, it is a laudable goal. And much like I thought when reading Traveler, if one does not continually return to these issue, they are forgotten, or overwhelmed by the expediency of the now.

As a narative, though, there was something missing. Both Traveler and Talking to Ourselves had a narrative that had its own logic, its own animating characters. Here, the characters don’t breathe, so much as explain history, explain political moments. Have no doubt, its well done, with a depth of knowledge that shows Neuman’s skill as a writer. And there are some brilliant passages and lines that make the novel enjoyable reading at times. But I couldn’t help but think the narrators, the ex-girlfriends were just historians, and not particularly good at it. Moreover, I didn’t really get a sense of the characters as living beings. Perhaps it was because all the narrators are looking back, all of their history is linear, well thought out, as if they had rehearsed it at length. Thee was no suspense and despite some good writing in places, many of the memories felt flat.

The story of Mr. Wantanabe is more interesting and there is a sense of his detachment from the world that comes through. His journey to the center of the disaster is a quixotic attempt to return to what he had lost years before. It also underscores the point that first he was a victim, and now he is one of the perpetrators. Nevertheless, he is a mysterious figure, because he never really speaks for himself, his exes do. It’s an interesting approach, and shifts the power dynamic, especially with a man who is always moving, never able settle in one place too long. And that’s where my initial irritation comes back, all I really have are the bullet points of his life against the backdrop of the 20th century.

Ultimately, Fracture is an ambitious novel, one that continues to show Neuman’s great talent as a writer. Compared to his other works, though, it is not quite as magical, and left me wondering what could’ve been. However, having read some of his 2019 book of experimental short works. Anatomía sensible, I know the future is bright.

I want to thanks the publisher for providing my review copy.



The Things We Don’t Do by Andrés Neuman – A Review

Neuman-The-Things-We-Dont-DoThe Things We Don’t Do
Andrés Neuman
Tran Nick Caistor & Lorenza Garcia
Open Letter, 2015, pg 190

When thinking about the short work of Andrés Neuman one word comes to me: joy. In all of his stories, no matter how dark or emotive, you see an author at work who loves the exploration of the power of the short story. In his meta fictions it is most obvious he is fascinated by language and story, but even when looking at the loss of a parent, or the hazing of young recruit, I find a belief in the power of  just a few pages to create fragments of a larger world that exists just at the edge of the page. If one is willing to engage in the search, the varied stories of this collection will show a writer who is both capable of literary invention and bringing out the power of the little moments his characters experience, both profound, brief, and, thankfully, absent edifying epiphanies. In Neuman’s hands, a short story is where one goes to work out a single idea, often quite short. The joy is in that search, the experience of being in the story and finding the same potential in it that he does.

The first story, Happiness, completely captures the joy in Andrés’ work. In it the narrator, Marcos, relates how he would like to be like Cristobal:

He is my friend; I was going to say my best friend, but I have to confess he is the only one.

At first it is an innocuous statement or friendship. But Marcos continues to describe how he envies Cristobal because he sleeps with his wife. From the story descends into the hapless monologue of a man who wants to take control of something he’ll never control. It is the kind of inversion of control that can show up in Neuman’s work, where the expected is reversed.

Happiness shows the reversal in a more overt and comedic way, where as Delivery takes a more lyric turn, following the alternating anguish and joy of a man right before his first child is born. He flies from idea to idea, never falling into sentimentality, yet finding in the coming a birth both a union with the new life, his and the child’s, and separation with his old one. Neuman deftly captures the anxiety and excitement at such a moment, and the translation deftly captures the wild exuberance of the one sentence that twists and double backs on itself, leaving the reader in a twisting labyrinth of emotion.

Included within are two stories that pay homage to Borges’ ideas. In one he describes a literary lecture by Borges where all the participants come dresses in gold clothing. The lecture itself is uninteresting and unimportant. What matters is that as a group they left an impression on Borges. The story is an echo of a Borges’ quote, I am going to cause a tiger,” and the story ends as the narrator notes that the audience caused a tiger. It’s a story that expands a Borges idea, both in the sense of a literary essay and the creation of the literary character, Borges. It is indicative of a fascination with the work of Borges and his interest in the writer himself.

The Poem -Translating Machine follows on another theme that you kind find in “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote”. In the story, a poet tries to have one of his poems translated. The translation is a disaster, but instead of trying again, he asks a friend to translate the translation. Although the results are unimpressive and don’t match his work, he continues to pass the various translation on to other translators, going back and forth between the various languages. Eventually, a translator returns a poem to him that is just like his. While, Menard republishes the same thing and it is just the times that make it seem different, here it is the different approaches to language that shifts the meaning and brings out the fluidity of language, making both the point that translation is near impossible, and any writing, even in its original is open to many shifting meanings. It is one Neuman’s celebratory explorations of language and writing, one that makes it clear that he takes a great interest in how meaning shifts.

The Things We Don’t Do collects stories that have appeared in four Spanish language collections of short stories (links are to my reviews, and include descriptions of some of the stories included within): Hacerse el muerto, Alumbramiento, El ultimo minuto, and El que espera. (My one complaint with this collection is there is no indication which story came from which collection) It is divided into several sections, but follow the typical Neuman pattern: stories that are less meta, more interested in character and relationships; literary commentary that can explore a literary idea or just celebrate literature; and epigrams about writing short stories, which are a must read for any short story writer, even if you don’t agree with all of them. In The Things We Don’t Do, the weighting is towards the first type, but every type of story gets its due. My only other complaint is I would have liked to have seen the inclusion of Policial cubista (Cubist Police Officer), which is one of my favorite stories, but that is a small thing. The translation is sharp and well done. The only thing I took exception to was the use of the word “wimp” in Man Shot, instead of the stronger gay epithet that appears in the original and gives a deeper meaning to the story.

The Things We Don’t Do is an excellent introduction to the short stories of Andrés Neuman and will reward any reader with a delightful array of stories.

Alumbramiento (Illumination) by Andrés Neuman – A Review

Alumbramiento (Illumination)
Andrés Neuman
Páginas de Espuma, 2006 pg 166

Andrés Neuman is a dedicated explorer of the short story form, both as a writer and an editor. Alumbramiento, one of his earlier collections, shows him as a mature writer working through different approaches to the short story form, in terms of theme and structure. Those explorations, can wander between the literary, as in the section devoted to literature, to the more familiar territory of relationships between people. In no matter which area he is writing the stories take on playfulness and a humanity that never treats characters as something frivolous, no matter how esoteric the story is.

The collection is divided into four parts: Otros Hombres (Other Men), which looks at men and their relationships; Minituras (Minitures), which is a series of short monologues; Lecturas (Readings), which is about reading and literature; and, as in all his collections, aphorisms about writing (I hesitate to call them rules, more thought pieces). Alumbramiento, the first story of the collection, is, perhaps, Neuman’s most stream of conscious story, narrating a man’s thoughts on the birth of his child. The title in Spanish means both  birth and illumination, and it sets the tone for Otros Hombres section, showing men who are in the process confronting a change. For the narrator of Alumbramiento the change is both scary and exciting, and in Neuman’s hands he stretches what might be a rather obvious idea, into an exploration of the narrator’s life, that is at once affectionate and insightful.

Where, Alumbramiento is a nervous joy, Una raya en la arena (A Line in the Sand) shows the break down of a couple through what seems so insignificant: the challenge to not cross a line drawn in the sand between a couple. How the man and the woman interpret the meaning and importance of the line shapes whether the line is a permanent, fixed barrier, or a metaphor for a troubled couple. The argument as the couple works through the meanings of the line is subtle. Did the woman even mean for the line in the sand to be a true line in the sand, a point of no return? All of these ideas weave through the story and show Neuman as strong observer of human interaction.

La belleza (The Beauty) is a representative story from the miniatures section. In these brief page long monologues the narrators describe something fundamental about themselves and the world around them. For the narrator of La belleza she is cursed with a beauty that the whole world recognizes and uses to appraise her with. She is not a thinking being, but an image of the ideal and when she speaks those around her are shocked that she has anything to say. In an Neuman touch, at night she dreams of a world full of ugliness. Of course that world cannot exist and when she awakes she finds herself completely alone. While there are familiar tropes about stereotyping beauty, Neuman adds to this with her solitary life, as if there is a beauty that is too much, too frightful.

Finally, in the Lecturas section, Neuman explores and plays with the idea of reading and the reader. Here he shows his great fascination not with narrative, but the idea of narrative, how readers construct and make their own narratives. It is the most humoristic section of the book, finding in a story like Queneau asltaba ancianas (Queneau  Robs Seniors) a celebration of Queneau, but also a chance to laugh at the trials of the robber who becomes less and less powerful, as if they style of the story robs him of his power. It is one of Neuman’s characteristic interests: writing in the border between fiction and the experience of reading that fiction. It is that interplay that is not only on display in the Lecturas section, but informs many of his stories and makes them unique.

Many of these stories are now available form Open Letter Press and any one reading this would do well to get a copy.

Barbarismos (Barbarisms) by Andrés Neuman – A Review of his Alternate Dictionary

Barbarismos (Barbarisms)cubierta_NEUMAN_Barbarismos_imprenta
Andrés Neuman
Páginas de Espuma, 2014, pg.130

Anyone has followed this blog will know that I am a fan of Andrés Neuman’s work. He has an incredible range of impressive writing working in novels, short stories, short essays, and editorial work with the short story. (He writes poetry, but I’ve not read it.) To this list we can add Barbarismos his personal dictionary. In Spanish, the title refers to the linguistic concept of using a word incorrectly or include an expression from a foreign language in Spanish. From this starting ground he has created a dictionary of alternative definitions. Ambrose Bierce’s Devils Dictionary is the most obvious example to an English speaker, although Dr. Johnson’s dictionary with its love of opinionated definitions is a cousin. In these alternative definitions are humor, notes of satire, and the exploration of writing, all written with a subtly and insight that make the book a fascinating exercise.

With respect to his definitions about writing and literature, he tends to look at them as a process, both of finding yourself reflected in a work and creating the work as you interact with it. For Neuman there is a constant interplay between one who is working with a text, either in writing it or reading it, and the text itself. This interplay gives a mystery and elusiveness to a work. He’s not facile about this interplay, instead he sees in it a kind of epistemological relationship between an person and what they can know. At the same time, he sees it as a collective enterprise that has no leader, but is organic. His take on politics is humorous without being particularly caustic. Certainly there are jabs at patriotism and religion that go beyond the day to day frustrations of living in a democracy that doesn’t quite live up to its ideals. He’s at his best here when he takes down sacred cows, as he does with patriotism and his definition for flag.

Ultimately, Barbarismos succeeds as a book because Neuman’s way of finding the vital truth of a word is spot on, showing him to be an excellent observer and a clever writer. While he does play with words (see imán), many of his definitions I think would appeal to readers outside the English language. One would hope that some day a few more of these would appear in English.

bandera. Trapo de bajo coste y alto precio.
flag. Rag of low price and high cost.

búsqueda. Hallazgo casual de otra cosa.
search. Casual discovery of something else.

cuentista. Mentiroso que busca la verdad un poco más lejos.
storyteller. Liar that searches for the truth a little bit father out.

democracia. Ruina griega. || 2. ~ parlamentaria: oxímoron.
democracy. Greek ruin || Parliamentary democracy: oxymoron

escritura. Autobiografía colectiva.
writing. Collective autobiography.

imán. En el campo de la física, atracción fatal. || 2. En el campo religioso, ídem.
magnet/imam. In physics, fatal attraction.  || 2. In religion, the same.

izquierda. Ideología política que parece irreconocible hasta que gobierna la derecha. || 2. Sentido critico con tendencia a atentar contra si mismo.
left. Political ideology that seems unrecognizable until the right governs. || 2. Being a critic with the tendency to attack one’s self.

vacaciones. Acción de transitar por los mismos lugares a menor velocidad.
vacation. Act of passing through the same places at a slower pace.


El Pais had a review of the book with more definitions and definitions from 20 other Spanish authors

Andrés Neuman on Julio Cortázar

Andrés Neuman published an excellent article on Julio Cortázar in El Pais this week, one that is worth reading and shows his breath as a writer.

Los cuentos fantásticos de Cortázar han sido aislados en un canon restrictivo que tiende a traicionar la genuina variedad de su poética. Las piezas perfectas (uno de los epítetos más recurrentes en su prosa) al estilo de Continuidad de los parques, escritas durante los años cincuenta y sesenta, han eclipsado una extraordinaria periferia que, contradiciendo la opinión oficial, incluye su obra tardía. Pese a los sobreexplotados artefactos de inversión como Axolotl, muchos de sus cuentos memorables (La autopista del sur, Casa tomada) no condescienden al malabarismo estructural, ni concluyen en sorpresa. En otras palabras, la mayoría de los cuentos de Cortázar operan al margen de la simplificadora ecuación con que suele identificarse su narrativa breve, persiguiendo más bien lo que él alguna vez denominó “mecánicas no investigables”.

Un ejemplo de esas afueras es Queremos tanto a Glenda, del libro homónimo, legible como parábola de la reescritura, pero también de la censura autoritaria; se trata de un excelente cuento político, descargado de lastres panfletarios. Y sobre todo Diario para un cuento, del postrero Deshoras. En este texto final y sin embargo fundacional, Cortázar declara su intención de escribir “todo lo que no es de veras el cuento”, los alrededores de lo narrable: el contorno de un género. Quizá por eso repita la frase “no tiene nada que ver”, a modo de mantra digresivo. Para éxtasis del hermeneuta universitario, en este cuento se cita y traduce, acaso por primera vez en una obra de ficción latinoamericana, un fragmento de Derrida.

Andrés Neuman’s Newest Book: Barbarismos

This came out a few weeks ago, but I’ve been a little busy lately.

Andrés Neuman has a new book out in Spain called, Barbarismos (Barbarisms). It is a collection of humorous definitions of common words. Kind of reminds me of Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. You can read about it, get and excerpt, and see a video all at Paginas de Espuma, the publisher.

Here are a few samples (with my translation)

bandera. Trapo de bajo coste y alto precio.

flag. Rag of low price and high cost.

búsqueda. Hallazgo casual de otra cosa.

search. Casual discovery of something else.

cuentista. Mentiroso que busca la verdad un poco más lejos.

storyteller. Liar that searches for the truth a little bit father away.

democracia. Ruina griega. || 2. ~ parlamentaria: oxímoron.

democracy. Greek ruin || Member of parliament: oxymoron

escritura. Autobiografía colectiva.

writing. Collective autobiography.


Interview with Andrés Neuman at Revista de Letras

There is a short but interesting review with Andrés Neuman, a favorite of this blog, that is worth a read over at Revista de Letras:

Su primera novela, Bariloche (1999), publicada cuando contaba 22 años, fue finalista del premio Herralde. Con El viajero del siglo (2009), obra que obtuvo, entre otros, el Premio Alfaguara y el Premio de la Crítica, le llega el reconocimiento definitivo. Escritor en toda la extensión del término, Andrés Neuman figura entre los autores más versátiles de las lenguas hispanas, con más de 20 títulos publicados, entre poesía, cuento, novela y ensayo. Conversamos con él sobre géneros y creación literaria.

Me gustaría empezar la entrevista hablando de géneros. Salta a la vista que pareces hallarte igualmente cómodo escribiendo poesía, ensayo, cuento o novela. Has practicado, también, el aforismo, género poco habitual en las letras hispanas. ¿Cuál crees que pueda ser el motivo de contar con tan pocos autores en éste género?
Más que cómodo, al saltar de un género a otro intento quizá sentirme voluntariamente incómodo. O sea, en estado de tensión lingüística. No comparto la idea de dominar el oficio literario, si entendemos por ello la adquisición progresiva de una experiencia mediante la cual escribir sería cada vez más fácil. A mí escribir me parece algo cada vez más raro. Me siento literalmente un principiante: alguien enamorado del principio de la escritura, cuando es una mezcla de incertidumbre, entusiasmo y miedo. En ese sentido el aforismo parece un terreno particularmente propicio, porque pasa de la nada a la idea, del vacío a la música en una sola línea. Tiene algo abismal. Y te enfrenta de manera inmediata con tus errores y tu puntería. Es cierto que la tradición del aforismo ha abundado en otras culturas, más proclives quizás a la unión de poesía y pensamiento y, en definitiva, históricamente más ligadas a la Ilustración

Short Story “Una partida” from Andrés Neuman at Ojo Seco

Ojo Seco has an unpublished short story from Andrés Neuman (Spanish Only). It is short, but quite good.

Hacía casi diez años que mi amigo Riquelme y yo no nos veíamos. Nunca ha sido fácil coincidir. Él vive en Chile, yo en Andalucía. Él detesta los aviones, yo apenas tengo tiempo para viajes. Él es especialista en páncreas, a mí no me interesa la ciencia. Él tiene que hacer guardias todas las semanas, yo es raro el día que no tengo compromisos familiares. Él se mantiene soltero, yo tengo cuatro hijos. Pese a ser atractivo, o por culpa de serlo, a Riquelme le cuesta encontrar pareja estable. Yo (para qué engañarme a mi edad) soy tirando a feo, me gusta la vida casera y me intimida la selva del ocio nocturno. Él reaparece muy de vez en cuando en mi correo, yo no suelo llamar demasiado por teléfono…

Short Story “Proof of Innocence” by Andrés Neuman in English at Contemporary Argentine Writers

Contemporary Argentine Writers has a translated short story from Andrés Neuman, Proof of Innocence. It is a funny story and shows a different style of writing for those of you who’ve only read his novel, The Traveler of the Century.

Yes. I like being interrogated by the police. We all need for them to verify our innocence, to confirm that we have paid our dues and can move along. That’s why I love feeling like I’m beyond reproach and demonstrating how well-mannered I am, convincing them that it wasn’t me.

Hablar solos (Talking Alone / Talking to Ourselves) by Andrés Neuman – A Review

portada-hablar-solos_grandeHablar solos (Talking Alone / Talking to Ourselves)
Andrés Neuman
Alfagara, 2012, pg 179

Andrés Neuman is a remarkable writer who is at home writing short stories and novels. With the publication of his latest book Hablar solos, he has returned to a more intimate writing than what readers of  Traveler of the Century, published in English in 2012, might expect. At less than half the length, Hablar solos is closer in spirit to 2011’s collection of short stories Hacerse el muerto, and is composed of dialogue between three people. The three people, however, never talk to each other and in many ways do not interact with each other, instead they talk to each other as if they were writing a journal entry with all its rhetorical fluidity. I mention Hacerse el muerto because, while comic at times, returns to the theme of parental loss that he first touched on in his short quintet, Una silla para alguien. All of these elements make Hablar solos a much more personal book that shows a broad range of feeling and subjects he Neuman is willing to approach.

The three narrators are Mario, a truck driver and father of, Lito a young boy, and Elena, his wife and a professor of literature. As the book opens Mario takes Lito on a one of his deliveries in his truck, Pedro. As they drive across Spain, Mario takes Lito on a grand adventure, seeping in the cab, eating at truck stops, sleeping in hotels. It is all fascinating for the boy and everything is a big adventure. Even when strange encounters occur Lito has no idea what it really going on. Nor does he know that Mario is dying of cancer and this is their last time together. Everything they do in the truck together is tinged with sadness as Mario knows it is the last time they can do it together. While Lito’s narration is fairly matter of fact: we did this, saw that; Mario’s is a pleas for his son to remember the things they did together and understand some day what he did for Lito on that journey.

Perhaps the best example of the two voices working together is when they spend the night in a strange hotel that doesn’t even have a shower in the bathroom and Mario insists Lito not sit on the bed spread and make sure he walks everywhere with his slippers. In the hotel cafe where men and women dance, that in itself a rarity, they meet a self described magician who gives Lito a hat. Mario can’t wait to get him out of there despite Lito’s protests. He doesn’t understand why his father would do that when they were having such a good time. What Lito doesn’t know is they are in a brothel because Mario felt so sick he couldn’t continue on and stopped at the first hotel he could find. The man, Mario says, though Lito was for rent since who could believe a father would bring their son into a place like that. It is a funny and touching moment showing both the desperation of the father to have that one last experience with his son, and to protect him from what ever harm he can.

The strongest and ever present voice, though, is Elena. He narration makes up half the book and is where the real exploration of the pain of loss happens. Mario is unable to express himself very deeply. Everything goes through the family, but for Elena the coming loss is overwhelming and leads her into an affair with Mario’s cancer doctor. It is a strange relationship, almost sadomasochistic, one where the doctor fetishes the human body in all its failings. It isn’t so much a love affair as an act of denial: for her that death is coming; for the doctor that in worshiping the body, even with all its flaws, can heal those who are about to feel loss. These are the conversations Mario and Elena should be having, but the novel is called Hablar solos for a good reason: no one is willing to discuss anything and leaves Elena to wonder

Pero otras veces me pregunto: ¿Y si ese, exactamente, fuera Mario? ¿Y si, en lugar de haber perdido su esencia, ahora sólo quedase lo esencial de él? ¿Como una desilación? ¿Y si en este hospital estuvieramos malentendiendo los cuerpos de nuestors seres queridos?

But at other times I wondered: And if this really were Mario? And if instead of having lost his essence, now, only remained the essential parts of him? Like a distillation? And if in this hospital we are misunderstanding the bodies of our dear ones?

Because Mario and Elena speak by themselves they are unable to answer these questions. It makes the grief Elena feels all the greater. Yet when it is a private thing and when she is reproached for not having asked earlier for help from her friends or family she says,

Confunden SOS y SSO, lo que yo llamo Servicio Sentimental Obligatorio

They confuse the SOS and the OSS, what I call the Obligatory Sentimental Service.

It is a line that captures the novel well, the struggle between communicating and expressing one’s self. The irony of the novel is that although the characters are talking alone, they are talking ad they know they need to pass along what they have to say, they just can’t bring themselves to do it in conversation. It is as if conversation would contain their ability to express themselves.

Hablar solos is an excellent book that successfully renders three distinct voices into a conversation. Neuman’s experiment with the different voices is quite successful and even though you don’t know the whole back story to the characters (this feels like Neuman the short story writer at work, and a nice touch), you have the sense of a completion. What really made the novel so good, though, was Neuman’s way of delving into the slow loss that cancer brings. It can make the novel tough at times, but the humor, especially in the voice of Lito, doesn’t less it so much as make it easier to approach. It is a delicate balancing act that shows Neuman at the top of his game and a writer whose next work I look forward to reading.

If you are looking to read it in English, Puskin Press will be publishing it in Spring 2014.


The Micro Short Story in Spanish – A New Collection and an Overview

El Pais has an overview of a new collection of micro short stories in Spanish, edited by Fernando Valls whose blog La Nave de los Locos is a must if you are interested in the Spanish language short story, and published by Menoscuarto, called Mar de pirañas (Sea of Piranas).

Mar de pirañas (Menos cuarto) reúne bajo mando de Fernando Valls nuevos y viejos nombres del microrrelato en español. Sin pretensiones de teorizar sobre el estado de la cuestión, los textos van tramando la cartografía de un género conciso en el lenguaje, radicalizado en el uso de la elipsis, constreñido en el espacio físico, envuelto por una muralla de aire por donde discurre la evocación y lo inesperado. Una compilación que demuestra que la brevedad no tiene por qué estar unida a la celeridad de estos tiempos. “El tope de edad está en 1960”, describe Valls su selección de escritores. “He querido excluir a los más consagrados como Luis Mateo Díez y mezclar a autores que no lo cultivan habitualmente como Almudena Grandes o Eloy Tizón, que solo han escrito uno o dos”.

Inspirada en una pieza de Ana María Shua, escritora argentina, madre hispana del microrrelato con permiso del dinosaurio de Augusto Monterroso, las piezas se organizan en un ejercicio casi de arte marcial: pulir, pulir y pulir. “El género condiciona el tipo de historia, no se desarrolla la psicología de los personajes, ni siquiera tienen nombres la mayoría de las veces”, apunta el compilador. “Hay mucho simbolismo, la metáfora se multiplica al no poder explicar las cosas, hay que afinar y la manera más potente es decir una cosa y que el lector entienda otra”, apostilla el escritor Rubén Abella, uno de los participantes en Mar de pirañas.

In addition, there is an article  (and a blog post) where a few authors pick their favorite micro stories.

Ana María Shua elige Los dos reyes y los dos laberintos, de Jorge Luis Borges.

Andrés Neuman, Metamorfosis, de Juan José Arreola.

Fernando Iwasaki, Continuidad de los parques, de Julio Cortázar.

Clara Obligado, Le régret D´Héraclite, de Borges.

Te invitamos a que nos digas cuál es el tuyo, el microrrelato que más te gusta y que lo compartas en la sección de comentarios de este post.


Andrés Neuman on the Guatemalan Writer Augusto Monterroso

A couple interesting articles about the Guatemalan writer Augusto Monterroso appeared in El Pais recently. One is from a favorite of the blog, Andrés Neuman, who gives a good account of how Monterroso, in the midst of the Boom, went in completely the opposite direction, eschewing the nation building novels and looking towards the humorous short stories.

Augusto Monterroso encarna cierto tipo de intelectual latinoamericano en las antípodas del boom, cuya ambición no persigue el proyecto total ni las esencias nacionales, sino el atentado contra el tótem y la discreción irónica. A dicha estirpe, tan desertora del canon como fronteriza en lo estético, pertenecen también Alejandro Rossi, Marco Denevi o Rodolfo Wilcock. Quizá no casualmente, en la obra de estos cuatro autores, humor e inteligencia son dos formas de leer entre líneas. A caballo entre el ensayismo bonsái y la micronarrativa, todo texto de Monterroso contiene un género y su parodia. Los motivos de esa confrontación interna tienen que ver sin duda con una poética, pero también con una actitud. A diferencia de quienes consideran que un ceño fruncido es signo de genialidad, Monterroso (Tegucigalpa, 21 de diciembre de 1921 – Ciudad de México, 7 de febrero de 2003) no aspiraba a exhibir su conocimiento, sino a desconfiar de él.

The second from El Pais comes from Javier Rodríguez Marcos‘ blog Letra Pequeña. A new collection of his stories has come out and he sounds interesting. A nice dosage of humor that turns ideas around and is more than just jokes.

a algo tenían que servir los aniversarios: vuelve Augusto Monterroso. El escritor guatemalteco exiliado en México murió, con 81 años, en febrero de 2003 y Debolsillo publica ahora El Paraíso imperfecto, una “antología tímida” preparada por Carlos Robles Lucena. La nota de prensa que acompaña el libro utiliza las expresiones “deliciosa antología” y “célebre autor”, y no es difícil imaginarse al célebre autor de la deliciosa antología sonriéndose ante tales epítetos. Todo adjetivo supone un criterio de clasificación y a Monterroso le gustaban las clasificaciones, no en vano decía que toda su obra era una variación sobre la de Borges. Cuando en el libro de entrevistas Viaje al centro de la fábula le preguntaron “¿Qué sensación te produce ser considerado o designado, generalmente, como un humorista?” Monterroso respondió: “Agradable, no por lo de humorista, sino por el hecho de ser clasificado. Me encanta el orden”. Basta echar un vistazo a las cinco toneladas de documentos que atesora su archivo –actualmente en la universidad de Oviedo- para certificarlo.

If you can read Spanish I suggest you read his short story El eclipse. It has a great twist on the westerner, the savage and the eclipse type stories that have shown up in more than a few books and movies.

Gabriela nada – Short Story from Andrés Neuman at Pagina 12

Pagina 12 has a short story from Andrés Neuman called Gabriela nada. Don’t miss the little piece El cuento por su autor.

¿Quién se anima a nadar hasta El Cerrito?, preguntó Gabriela con cara de, no sé, de algo mojado y muy luminoso. Me imagino una galletita del tamaño del sol, una galletita enorme hundiéndose en el mar. Un poco de eso tenía cara Gabriela cuando nos lo preguntó.

¿Nadie se anima?, insistió ella, pero ya no puedo decir qué cara puso porque la vista se me fue más abajo. Su traje de baño era verde, verde como, no sé, ahora no se me ocurre ningún ejemplo. Era un verde clarito y la pieza de arriba pinchaba un poco por el centro. Gabriela siempre se reía de nosotros. Y tenía derecho, porque nos llevaba dos años o a lo mejor tres, era casi una mujer y nosotros, bueno, nosotros le mirábamos la pieza de arriba del traje de baño. Valía la pena que ella se riese de nosotros, porque sus hombros subían y bajaban y la tela verde clarita se le movía también por adentro.

Spanish Short Story Writer Medardo Fraile Has Died

The Spanish short story writer Medardo Fraile (1925-2013) has died. While not known well in English, he is considered one of the best of his generation, which included Aldecoa, Martín Gaite, Sánchez Ferlosio, Matute, and Fernández Santos. The writers of later generations such as Navarro, Tizón, Sáez de Ibarra have recognized his work, which is realistic than his contemporaries, as masterful. A few of his stories have been translated in English and In August Pushkin Press is going to bring out a translation of Cuentos de verdad. 

There are several obituaries and remberances at El Pais but the best I’ve read is from Andres Neuman who notes that he always remembers a phrase of Fraile’s:

«La estuvo mirando tres minutos; dos de ellos los dedicó a la nariz»

He watched her for 3 minutes; two of them dedicated to her nose.

From El Pais:

Era metafórico y minucioso, como en sus cuentos; y narraba lo que pasó en la guerra, más de setenta años después, con el mismo vigor con que hubiera contado el presente. Creía que el cuento era “un puñetazo lleno de realidad posible”, y a aquel tiempo le concedía una vigencia insoslayable, por eso hablaba de lo que pasó entonces como si estuviera narrando oralmente lo que quizá entonces se contó a sí mismo, mientras paseaba, bajo el ruido de las bombas, por estos escenarios entonces devastados.

Contaba sin pudor su vida, y hablaba con libertad de amigos y de adversarios, a los que zahería en voz baja; su recuerdo más emocionado, en las memorias y en persona, era para Ignacio Aldecoa, prematuramente fallecido en 1969, a los 44 años. Aldecoa era el jefe de filas de la generación de Medardo, “era el hermano mayor”. Evocando esa muerte, Fraile, que supo la noticia por casualidad en su exilio escocés, dijo que aquel compañero era sin duda un escritor de una voz “inconfundible, ejemplar”, el mejor de su tiempo, y mientras lo iba diciendo de sus ojos nítidamente azules fueron brotando unas lágrimas que al fin le quebraron la voz.

Nunca se fue del todo de España, o nunca estuvo del todo en Escocia. Cuando venía a Madrid llamaba a sus amigos, a sus editores, explicaba su nostalgia en función del frío que pasaba en Glasgow, pero en realidad sintió que aquella larga estancia fuera de su país había desnaturalizado el conocimiento que él mismo, y sus estudiosos y animadores —José María Merino, Ángel Zapata, Eloy Tizón…—, creía que merecía su producción literaria. Le pregunté por qué seguía viviendo allí, tan frío y tan lejos. “Pues ni yo mismo lo sé”. Dio clases en la Universidad de Strathclyde, desde los años setenta. Allí se casó, allí nació su hija. Explicando por qué seguía en Escocia dijo: “Allí estoy, recordando; yo vivo en Escocia, pero lo único que hago allí es recordar España”.

A few other articles and interviews from El Pais:

Andrés Neuman Interviewed on Galería VIP – Spanish Only

Galería VIP, a Mexican TV show has a long interview with Andrés Neuman which is very good. I recommend it highly. He has some insightful things to say about writing, but also traveling. He wrote a non fiction book on what it is like to travel and see the world just from the perspective of hotels and airports, without really getting a good look at the culture of a country.

Best Books of the Year Round up: Spanish Language Press

Here is my not comprehensive list of best books of the year compiled by the various Spanish language presses of note.

Revista Ñ breaks their lists into 5 sections: Argentine narratives, foreign narratives, essays, poetry, and various. Below are the Argentine novels. The Juan José Saer is an unfinished collection of drafts and pieces. It is on the list, but I’m doubtful. If they hadn’t made mention of Steven King in the write up, Luciano Lamberti’s stories sound interesting. Leopoldo Brizuela’s novel won the Alfaguara this year and sounds interesting too.

  • El viento que arrasa de Selva Almada (Mardulce)
  • Papeles de trabajo de Juan José Saer (Seix Barral)
  • Una misma noche de Leopoldo Brizuela (Alfaguara)
  • El amor nos destrozará de Diego Erlan (Tusquets)
  • Borgestein de Sergio Bizzio (Mondadori)
  • El loro que podía adivinar el futuro de Luciano Lamberti (Nudista)
  • Canción de la desconfianza de Damian Selci (Eterna Cadencia)

From El Páis comes several lists, including best translated book (there’s no shame in that over there and always worth a look to see what they think is important in foreign literature). The El Páis edition also includes a Saer book, but this one looks more promising, his complete short stories: Juan José Saer Cuentos completos (El Aleph). I’m not familiar with Luis Landero, their number one, but the others on the list are old standbys and I’m a little dubious if they are really the best of the year. I have read some good reviews of the Cercas book though.

From ABC in Spain we have a list that doesn’t really catch my eye. It is very heavy on fascism, nazis and war. I’m not sure where their head has been this year. I will say they have picked from a wide range of publishers. I think most are small press. (nod to Moleskine) Bonus coverage of the critics talking about why they chose certain books.

  • Contra toda esperanza, Nadiezhda Mandelstam (Acantilado).
  • Malaparte. Vidas y leyendas, Maurizio Serra (Tusquets).
  • Continente salvaje, Keith Lowe (Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores).
  • Guardianas nazis. El lado femenino del mal, Mónica González Álvarez (EDAF).
  • Noches azules, Joan Didion (Mondadori).
  • Algún día este dolor te será útil, Peter Cameron (Libros del Asteroide).
  • El diablo a todas horas, Donald Ray Pollock (Libros del Silencio).
  • La cápsula del tiempo, Miqui Otero (Blackie Books).
  • ¿Por qué nos gustan las guapas?, Todo Rafael Azcona en La Codorniz (Pepitas de calabaza y Fulgencio Pimentel).
  • Me hallará la muerte, Juan Manuel de Prada (Destino).

From La Vanguardia in Barcelona we have the bonus list of the best in Catalan. But since I only speak Spanish I’ll leave that to you to investigate. There are some of the usual names here (Marias, Cercas, Vila-Matas). The Lusi Landero from El Páis’s list made it to the list. Andres Neuman was listed, too. I’m looking forward to the book. I already have my copy and will be reading it in the near future.  Juan Villoro’s new novel made it on to the list. I’ve been on the fence with the reviews I’ve heard of it. He always strikes me as more of a non fiction writer. Perhaps if I read the book I might change my mind.

Título: El país imaginado
Autor: Eduardo Berti (Buenos Aires, 1964)
Editorial: Impedimenta

Título: Aire de Dylan
Autor: Enrique Vila-Matas (Barcelona, 1948)
Editorial: Seix Barral

Título: Perros que ladran en el sótano
Autor: Olga Merino (Barcelona, 1965)
Editorial: Alfaguara

Título: Mala índole
Autor: Javier Marías (Madrid, 1951)
Editorial: Alfaguara

Título: Lo que cuenta es la ilusión
Autor: Ignacio Vidal-Folch (Barcelona, 1956)
Editorial: Destino

Título: Absolución
Autor: Luis Landero (Alburquerque, 1948)
Editorial: Tusquets

Título: Las leyes de la frontera
Autor: Javier Cercas (Ibahernando, 1962)
Editorial: Mondadori

Título: Arrecife
Autor: Juan Villoro (México, 1956)
Editorial: Anagrama

Título: Victus
Autor: Albert Sánchez Piñol (Barcelona, 1965)
Editorial: La Campana

Título: Hablar solos
Autor: Andrés Neuman
Editorial: Alfaguara

El Cultural from Spain has an interesting list. I found their list last year one of the more interesting ones (and 100% Spanish, I believe; no Latin Americans). Their top pick is the Spanish writer José María Merino’s realistic novel. He’s generally thought of a writer of the fantastic and a short story writer, though not exclusively. I just finished one of his books and a review will becoming shortly, but his work is interesting and wide ranging. His interviews are worth a read, too.

  • El río del Eden, José María Merino (Alfaguara)
  • Absolución, Luis Landero (Tusquets)
  • Años lentos, Fernando Aramburú (Tusquets)
  • El Tango de la Guardia Vieja, Arturo Pérez Reverte (Alfaguara)
  • Las Leyes de la Frontera, Javier Cercas (Tusquets)
  • La hija del Este, Clara Usón (Seix Barral)
  • Las voces del Pamano, Jaumé Cabré (Destino)
  • La cabeza en llamas, Luis Mateo Diez (Galaxia Gutemberg)
  • Medusa, R. Menéndez Salmón (Seix Barral)
  • Ayer no más, Andrés Trapiello (Destino)

Their write up of Landero’s book is quite succinct:

Con pericia de narrador en plena madurez, Landero (Alburquerque, Badajoz, 1948) relata en Absolución las aventuras de Lino, un treintañero conflictivo, tierno y desvalido, de muchos oficios y poco asiento. Con él se cruzan personajes casi tan raros como él, excéntricos y quijotescos, a los que Landero retrata con una mirada cordial, piadosa y distante hasta construir , en palabras de Santos Sanz Villanueva, “una excelente novela, divertida y triste, cálida, repleta de seres entrañables, que además se atreve a plantear, con lucidez y humor, con más melancolía que tragedia aparente, el irresoluble arcano de nuestra misteriosa existencia y enigmático destino”.

The Columbian Magazine Semana has this list (nod to Moleskine). Two items of note: a book of creative writing from indigenous authors; and a book from James Thurber (What?).

1. Memoria por correspondencia, de Emma Reyes.
2. Crímenes, de Ferdinand von Schirach.
3. Abandonarse a la pasión, de Hiromi Kawakami.
4. Lenguaje creativo de las etnias indígenas de Colombia, de varios autores.
5. Elegía, de Mary Jo Bang.
6. Érase una vez en Colombia, de Ricardo Silva Romero.
7. El desafío de la memoria, de Joshua Foer.
8. Doce relojes, de James Thurber.
9. El incendio de abril, de Miguel Torres.
10. Los hermanos Cuervo, de Andrés Felipe Solano.

Finally, El ADN Cultura from “La Nación” has a list you can read here. It is long and has a lot of translations on it–including Steven King, so just by that it is a dubious list. Perhaps, translation makes him better.

Andrés Neuman Interviewed in

Andrés Neuman was interviewed in about his new book and his thoughts on writing and culture. It is an interesting interview that gives one a taste of his new novel.

-¿’Hablar solos’ nace de muchas conversaciones en soledad?

-Bueno, en realidad me atraen las historias de carretera, pero siempre han tendido a postergar al personaje femenino. Desde el principio de la narrativa, con Ulises y Penélope, hasta nuestros tiempos, las historias de viaje iniciático casi siempre han sido reductoramente masculinas. Hacía tiempo que le daba vueltas a contar una historia de carretera donde el personaje femenino pasara de secundario a protagonista. Y, por otra parte, la experiencia de haber cuidado a distintos seres queridos y haber ido viendo cómo caminaba mi idea de la vida ha sido otra de las claves. Me interesaba contar las aventuras y desventuras de quien cuida a un ser querido, ver cómo su idea del placer, del cuerpo y del amor cambian para siempre.
-¿Por cierto sentimiento de culpa?
-Claro, la culpa de estar sano cuando el otro vive y la de haber sobrevivido cuando muere. Yo siempre digo que el duelo es una especie de posguerra íntima. En todas las posguerras, quienes sobreviven a los bombardeos tienen una mezcla de fortuna por no haber caído, y de perplejidad porque han caído otros. Cuando uno está pasando un duelo parte de su dificultad no es solo la ausencia física del otro sino otros conflictos que me interesaban narrar, porque esta novela se centra sobre todo en el después: la culpa del superviviente y la batalla que emprende nuestra memoria por sanar el recuerdo de quien hemos perdido.
-Freud decía que recordar es la mejor manera de olvidar…
-Yo creo que lo decía por la parte de ficticia que tiene nuestra memoria. Él también hablaba de lo siniestro, decía que era lo próximo y lo cotidiano cuando se vuelve terrorifico. En ese sentido, la enfermedad es siniestra porque hace que todas las rutinas con un ser querido sano se vuelvan de pronto amenazantes, estremecedoras y melancólicas. Pero también hay otra cara en contraposición y es lo emocionante y profundamente poético que se vuelve todo cuando amenaza con ser la última vez; se agudiza el relieve de las cosas, todo adquiere una dimensión nueva que tiene que ver con la conciencia de la mortalidad. Por eso en la novela, al personaje de Elena se le disparan los dos índices: el del dolor y el del placer. Se aferra al placer y lo vive como pura supervivencia, como un acto de vida o muerte.

Andrés Neuman Meets His Readers: Virtual Interview at El Pais

The virtual interviews that El Pais runs where the public can ask questions of an author can be hit and miss. Andrés Neuman on the occasion his newest book participated in one. There are some good questions, especially his take on overlooked or up and coming authors.

Buenas, Andrés. Ya que se cumple medio siglo del fenómeno, ¿qué autor del ‘boom’ está -o pretende estar- más presente en tu obra? Muchas gracias.

De los autores más consabidos de ese período, siempre he sentido predilección por Onetti. Por otra parte, los ataques a Cortázar o García Márquez me parecen esnobs y me molestan. El Boom, como todas las grandes explosiones, dejó una nube de polvo que nos impide ver más a lo lejos. Pero detrás, ahí, de pie, enteros, caminan también Puig, Di Benedetto, Garro, Lispector, Ocampo, Arreola.

Qué escritores españoles actuales nos recomendaría?

De mi generación, admiro por ejemplo a narradores como Elvira Navarro, Isaac Rosa, Andrés Barba o Mercedes Cebrián. Entre los poetas, me parecen excelentes (y precoces) Elena Medel, Juan Andrés García Román, Juan Antonio Bernier o Berta García Faet.

Felicitaciones y una pregunta: qué autores jovenes argentinos poco conocidos podría recomendar. Gracias.

Luis, ahí va el banquete: Hernán Ronsino, Samantha Schweblin, Oliverio Coelho, Fernanda García Lao o Pedro Mairal entre los narradores. Natalia Litvinova, Laura Wittner o Fabián Casas entre los poetas. Hay muchos más.

¿Hasta qué punto favorece la precocidad en el mercado a la labor literaria? En todos los libros que he leído de usted inciden en lo mismo, en el talento aunado a la juventud. Pero da la sensación de que esa forma de encasillar es un arma de doble filo, y da la sensación de que es necesario que usted rompa el mercado, o los cimientos de la literatura, o ambas cosas, para que le quiten de ese carro de las promesas y le otorguen el valor que su obra ya merece. ¿Cuánto pesan las etiquetas?

Estoy de acuerdo. Desde mi primer libro, tuve la certeza de que la juventud era un fetiche público de corto alcance: lo que (supuestamente) te beneficiaba al principio, te descartaría enseguida para que la maquinaria de las novedades siguiese funcionando. Existe el prejuicio de que lo joven vende, etcétera. Pero eso es una fantasía publiciataria: si pensamos por ejemplo en la situación del mercado laboral, vemos que los jóvenes son un sector particularmente desfavorecido. Por lo demás, jamás se me ocurriría empezar definiendo a un autor por su edad. La edad es una anécdota biológica. Algunos escritores dan lo mejor de sí en la madurez (no sé: Borges, Saramago), y a otros el tiempo los destruye (pienso en Capote). Además, ay, ahora tengo canas en la barba. Y esas canas me gustan: también prometen algo.

The Children of the Boom Generation Talk About What it Means to Them

El Pais had a couple articles this week on the Boom. The most interesting were the brief quotes from younger writers reflecting on what the Boom has meant to them, good or bad. I like to see a few criticisms of the terms and celebrations of certain elements. (emphasis mine)

Damián Tabarovsky (Argentina, 1967)

El boom retoma la ilusión de que el escritor latinoamericano tiene que tener algo de for export, de very typical (Bolaño es el último avatar del boom) con algunas gotitas de denuncia social y pasteurización de tradiciones locales. A la vez, introduce la novedad de que para ser escritor, o aún peor, hombre de letras, hace falta tener a una Carmen Balcells, o alguien como Carmen Balcells, o a muchos como Carmen Balcells; expresa el momento en que Barcelona comenzó a volverse sede del poder económico editorial en castellano; informa sobre la necesidad del mercadeo de izquierda como paradigma de la figura mediática del escritor latinoamericano (García Marketing, como lo llamaba Fogwill). Lamentablemente no aprendí demasiado de esas cosas. O por la negativa, tal vez sí, mucho. Algo más: hace poco releí Pedro Páramo y Tratados en La Habana, casi antagónicos y ambos notables.

Yuri Herrera (México, 1970)

Quizá lo primero es lo que los mismos escritores del boom aprendieron de los modernistas: que la voluntad de estilo define la mirada sobre la realidad y la fuerza de su narrativa. Que la del boom, entre otras cosas, adolece de ser una lista compuesta casi exclusivamente por hombres. Que un fenómeno mercadotécnico a veces solo es eso, y a veces se aprovecha de algo evidente, como que la mejor literatura en lengua española ya se estaba escribiendo en el continente americano. Que un buen escritor no necesariamente es una autoridad moral: algunos de los que escribieron las mejores novelas del siglo XX también plagiaron el trabajo de otros, sostuvieron amistades con dictadores, justificaron invasiones injustificables y subordinaron sus opiniones políticas a las necesidades de sus patrocinadores. Que una buena novela sobrevive a las mezquindades de sus autores e inclusive a su propio éxito.

Andrés Neuman (Argentina, 1977)

Ninguna etiqueta explica la realidad, pero algunas la mutilan hasta volverla incomprensible. De eso que llamamos boom aprendí el abismo entre los rótulos y las obras. ¿Qué tiene que ver Lezama con Onetti? ¿Por qué García Márquez (1927) y Vargas Llosa (1936) sí, mientras Puig (1932) no? ¿Hasta cuándo maestros como Di Benedetto o Ribeyro seguirán fuera de la foto? ¿Por qué no figuran poetas, habiéndolos brillantes? ¿No resulta sospechoso que ni siquiera Elena Garro, Silvina Ocampo o Clarice Lispector aparezcan en tan viriles listas? De eso que llamamos boom admiro la ambición estética de sus autores, que me hace pensar en la infinitud de la escritura; y recelo de sus mesianismos políticos, que me hacen pensar en la patología del liderazgo. Entre tanta generalización, dos décadas de textos extraordinarios. Tan grandes que merecen ser leídos como por primera vez, desordenando los manuales.

Antonio Muñoz Molina has an interesting memory of meeting Onetti, a writer who is not usually listed in the boom.

And on the publication of Luis Harss’ collection of interviews,  Los nuestros, with Boom era writers, there is a lengthy profile and excerpt.

All the Boom one needs for the week.

Andrés Neuman Interviewed on His New Book

ABC has an interview with Andrés Neuman about his new book, Hablar solos. It does sound interesting. The story is about a family (son, father, and mother) and how they deal with the limits of existence. He plays with ways in which loss is written about, alternating between happy and sad narrators, and one who cheats on the other. Each voice shades the other:

-Alternando ternura y crudeza, su novela se desplaza de la infancia a la perversión, de la familia al duelo. Una novela sobrecogedora que indaga en las relaciones entre Tánatos y Eros, planteando una pregunta de profundas consecuencias: ¿cómo afecta la enfermedad a nuestra forma de leer y de vivir el sexo?

-Es una novela en la que se mezclan voces muy festivas, la del niño Lito, con voces muy dolorosas, como la de Mario, que es la voz de alguien que agoniza. Pero, además, Elena, madre y esposa, es el personaje más conflictivo e importante de la novela, que cuida a un enfermo grave: su marido. A veces el conflicto de los cuidadores es tan o más complejo que el del enfermo. Se mezclan voces muy festivas, como la de Lito, con muy dolorosas y doloridas, como la de Mario, la voz de alguien que agoniza. Pero, además, hay un personaje, Elena, bella, que vive el placer y el dolor al mismo tiempo.