Mis días en Shanghai – The Writings of the Late Aura Estrada

Metapolitica (via @ezrafitz) has a beautiful review of the late Aura Estrada’s most recent book. Most of you probably don’t know who she is because she was killed while swimming on the Pacific coast of Mexico at the young age of 30. She was one of the authors in Zoetrope’s recent Latin American literature issue a while back that I really enjoyed and was interested in seeing more from, only to be shocked that she was no longer with us. Meapolitica has reviewed a collection of her unpublished work that she had been working on when she died and the review is good, if not sad. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, it is in Spanish and I fear her work will never come to English, but I offer a Google Translate for you perusal.

Pop manners, fantastic tales, told with a loose scenes prose and plain amazing detailed reliefs, reflections of an author that his teachers wanted in the way personal, sudden fictions that do not end in his few lines of length I think the main virtues that attracted me writing are, first, his prose. The writer did not give breaks or permits: each paragraph focuses at least a surprise and a reason to continue to share the observations of a witness sharp a narrator who does not waste his time nor the reader, and attacks: direct observation is smart, play seductive, mystery without falsifications “, capable of creating the need to follow the zigzag lines that prey on human experiences. The second is his sense of humor The narrative of our country dressed in black, navy blue, when the day is clearing. Aura ibargüengoitiana had a vein that would be wrong to conserve and value our letters. The author disarms social conventions, the currency of the commonplaces of life social rules, so familiar, prejudices, to introduce the thin side of our certainties: a smiling, laughing with his critical eye, the acid comments, jokes that complemented their stories illustrated, where no one goes unscathed tragicomedies This ability to lighten the solemn and bitter. His unique sense of humor.

Costumbrismo pop, relatos fantásticos, escenas sueltas narradas con una prosa de relieves sorprendentes y planicies detalladas, reflexiones de una autora que buscaba en sus maestros el camino personal, ficciones repentinas que no se agotan en sus escasas líneas de duración. Me parece que las principales virtudes con que esta escritura me sedujo son, en primer lugar, su prosa. La escritora no se daba descansos ni permisos: cada párrafo concentra al menos una sorpresa y un motivo para continuar compartiendo las observaciones de un testigo agudo, un narrador que no desperdicia su tiempo ni el del lector —y ataca: va directo a la observación inteligente, al juego seductor, al misterio sin falseos—, capaz de crear la necesidad de seguir los zigzag con que sus líneas apresan las experiencias humanas. La segunda es su sentido del humor. La narrativa de nuestro país viste de negro —de azul marino, cuando el día es claro—. Aura poseía una vena ibargüengoitiana que no le vendría mal a nuestras letras conservar y valorar. La autora desarma las convenciones sociales, la moneda corriente de los lugares comunes de la vida, las reglas sociales, lo consabido, los prejuicios, para presentarnos el lado más delgado de nuestras certidumbres: uno sonríe, se ríe con su mirada crítica, el comentario ácido, la burla ilustrada que contrapuntea sus historias, tragicomedias donde nadie sale ileso. Esa capacidad de aligerar lo solemne y lo amargo. Su sentido del humor único.

Zoetrope All Story: The Latin American Issue

I finished reading Zoetrope All Story: The Latin American Issue a week ago and have sometime to think about the quality of the stories. Before I start, though, I must say it was a pleasant surprise to have the text both in English and Spanish, which gave me a chance to read the stories in the original.

On the whole I wasn’t impressed with the stories. Many of them just weren’t that interesting to me. I’m not sure exactly why. Some of it was the writing style, which didn’t interest me too much, but mostly it was the choice of subjects. The worst was the story about the porn actor. I stopped reading it after a page and a half.

There were several stories, though, that did stand out. Tuesday Meetings by Slavko Zupcic was probably the best. The writing was fresh and the story about inmates in an asylum waiting for the pope’s visit was interesting and funny. Insular Menu by Ronaldo Menéndez from Cuba talk of the privations in Castro’s Cuba with a humor that didn’t dwell on the politics but human survival, although, cat lovers shouldn’t read the story. An Open Secret by the late Aura Estrada had some nice touches, although I think the story had more to do with Juan Rulfo than Borges. And, finally, Family by Rodrigo Hasbún was had some nice shifting perspective.

Zoetrope All Story: The Latin American Issue isn’t the best of Latin America, but a sampling of young writers. Some of these writers are very good and are worth a further look. Considering it can take years before young writers can make it into English, this is a good collection even if it is a little uneven.