My Article on Four UnTranslated Short Stories Is Up at the Quarterly Conversation

My article about four untranslated Spanish short story writers is now up at the Quarterly Conversation. It turned out really well and is a much longer form article than I normally write coming in at a little over 3K words. While I think the stories mentioned in the article are great I had to leave out so many different ones that it seems at times I haven’t written that much. Writing about short stories is always hard because you end up with some many different ones and you have to try come up with some sort of thematic element to link them together. This was esspecially the case with these four, but I think I was able to do it.

Collections of short stories are generally considered difficult to market, and thus they’re often looked down upon by editors who acquire new works of literature in the United States. This fact is no less true when it comes to editors who acquire works of foreign literature translated into English, an already notably under-represented group. To make matters worse, what stories that do get translated are often lumped into anthologies of what you might call stories from over there, which obscure the full range of an author’s talent beneath the idea that one story is a representative sample.

This is all very important in the case of Spanish literature, which in recent decades has seen a rebirth of the possibilities of the short story. For authors of what’s called the New Spanish Short Story, this tendency has hidden a great burst of creativity that began in the early 1980s and flowered during the 1990s and 2000s (the few stories that have been translated have been relegated to obscure editions unavailable in the United States). From the stories of the fantastic by Cristina Fernádez Cubas to the structural inventions of Hipólito G. Navarro and the surrealism of Ángel Zapata, Spanish short story writers have created an exciting and diverse body of work marked by its openness and dedication to pushing the boundaries of the form.

I  have also commented on other stories from Navarro and Cubas. The rest of the Quarterly Conversation looks very good, too, and definately worth reading. They have a nicely timed overview of the works of Mercè Rodoreda. (You my reviews of Death in Spring and her short stories)

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Los últimos percances (the Latest Misfortunes) by Hipólito G Navarro – a Brief Review

I just finished the Los últimos percances (the Latest Misfortunes) by Hipólito G Navarro, which marks the last of the three books with in the short story collection by the same name. Written in 2005, it is his last collection of new work, although El pez volador, a selection of the stories from this book, came out a year or two ago. I can’t say much about the book as I am writing an article about his stories, but I can say this continues his experimental approach to short stories that I’ve been commenting on for the last few months. I think El aburrimeiento Lester (The Boredom, Lester) is my favorite volume in the collection, but this certainly has some funny and inventive stories such as 27/45 and La cabeza nevada (the snowy head). One thing I did notice is that his stories have gotten shorter and more dense. While Los tirgres albinos had a section of micro-stories (micro relatos in Spanish), in los ultimos, it was more pronounced. It has been a great pleasure to read all these stories and I’m still thinking of ways to sum them up, besides the sloppy “experimental”, which is only so useful.

Short Story from Hipólito G. Navarro at La nave de los locos

The fine literary blog La nave de los locos has an unpublished short story from Hipólito G. Navarro a writer whose work I like. Although, I wouldn’t call this a story so much as a meditation or a reflection. That is often the case with very short stories. They aren’t so much a story with some action then a resolution, but a reflection what might have happened.

The first paragraph:

BALANCE

A un tigre, así sea albino, nunca le da por contar sus rayas. Tener algunas de más o de menos sobre la piel es asunto que le trae bastante al fresco….

Los Tigres Albinos (The Albino Tigrers) By Hipolito G Navarro – A Brief Review

Los Tigres Albinos (2001) is the second of the three books of short stories collected in Los Últimos Percances and is further evidence shown in El AburrimientoLester (1996), the first book of the collection, of Navarro’s masterful command of the short story medium. His stories are always inventive, seeking to stretch the short story form. I’m not sure if I could pick a favorite out of the collection, since there are so many interesting stories. He can be quite funny too and many of his stories turn on the humors desperation of solitary characters. I don’t want to say too much more since I’m writing a review article for a different site, but it is a shame he’s not available in English.

A Short Story From Hipólito G. Navarro – Jamon En Escabeche

Just in time for you Labor Day is a short story from Hipólito G. Navarro that I ran across on the blog El Laberinto de Noé. Jamon En Escabeche is from his 2000 book Los tigres albinos. It is a brief story so even if your Spanish isn’t that strong you may want to give it a try. He is one of the best short story writers in Spain today I would recommend his work if you can read Spanish (little of it exists in English).

Excellent Overview of the Spanish Short Story of the Last 20 Years at Sergi Bellver

Sergi Bellver has an excellent article on trends in the Spanish short story of the last 20 years. It is well worth the look if you want to see what is going on and more importantly, know who is doing it. He has an excellent list of authors past and present including some of my perennial favorites, Cristina Fernández Cubas, Ana María Matute, Hipólito G. Navarro, and others I have read or am going to read such as Andres Neuman (one of the recent Granta writers) and Miguel Ángel Muñoz. I’m don’t exactly agree with some of his statements about the American short story scene which is on the defensive with fewer and fewer magazines printing short stories. It is also fascinating to see which Americans make the list of influential short story writers: Carver, Ford, Cheever, Capote y Shepard.

Tras la llamada Generación del Medio Siglo, el cuento conoció horas más bajas y sólo algunas obras esporádicas mantenían su aliento. Más tarde, los nuevos cuentistas españoles revivieron con piezas clave que, sin embargo, no bebían directamente de las generaciones anteriores. Eso produjo una suerte de espacio en blanco y, salvo importantes excepciones, las referencias vendrían de los grandes cuentistas norteamericanos (Carver, Ford, Cheever, Capote y Shepard), gracias a catálogos como el de Anagrama, y también de la tradición europea, empezando por Kafka. Así, Quim Monzó, heredero de Pere Calders, o el incomparable Eloy Tizón iban a convertirse en el paso de los 80 a los 90 en dos de las cabezas de puente de la regeneración del cuento en nuestro país. A renglón seguido vendrían libros extraordinarios como Historias mínimas (1988), de Javier Tomeo; Días extraños (1994), de Ray Loriga; El que apaga la luz (1994), de Juan Bonilla; El fin de los buenos tiempos(1994), de Ignacio Martínez de Pisón; El aburrimiento, Lester (1996), de Hipólito G. Navarro y Frío de vivir (1997), de Carlos Castán, entre otros muchos.

A partir de ese caldo de cultivo previo y gracias a expertos como Andrés Neuman o Fernando Valls y sus antologías Pequeñas resistencias 5Siglo XXI (publicadas respectivamente por las dos editoriales más especializadas en el cuento, Páginas de Espuma y Menoscuarto), y también a la labor de otros sellos independientes como Salto de Página, Tropo, Lengua de Trapo o Ediciones del Viento, el lector español tiene a su alcance una extensa nómina de cuentistas. Autores que trabajan las cuerdas fundamentales del cuento (Óscar Esquivias, Fernando Clemot, Iban Zaldua o Javier Sáez de Ibarra) o investigan en las grietas que pueden socavar el sentido de lo real (Juan Carlos Márquez, Víctor García Antón, Fernando Cañero o Jordi Puntí). Cuentistas que tocan lo fantástico y lo insólito (Ángel Olgoso, Pilar Pedraza, Félix J. Palma o Manuel Moyano) o que inscriben en el cuento su condición femenina sin hacer “literatura de mujeres” (Cristina Cerrada, Inés Mendoza, Sara Mesa o Eider Rodríguez). Autores latinoamericanos que también construyen el cuento español (Fernando Iwasaki, Norberto Luis Romero, Santiago Roncagliolo, Eduardo Halfon o Ronaldo Menéndez) y autores españoles que desconstruyen lo formal (Eloy Fernández Porta, Vicente Luis Mora, Juan Franciso Ferré o Manuel Vilas). Esta tremenda diversidad y efervescencia literaria garantizan, más que nunca, que el lector dispuesto se contagie, como de la fiebre más bella, de la buena salud del cuento español contemporáneo.