As it says in the introduction to my list, I gave it my “best shot.”
Here are a few of the stories I chose:
1. “Continuity of Parks,” Julio Cortázar – Kind of have to make this number 1, since it was the first story I read in Spanish that totally blew my mind . . . And created a life-long passion for Cortázar.
3. “Entropy,” Thomas Pynchon – I love Pynchon so much, I’d tattoo him on my arm. His stories may be so-so, but his comments about women’s hair are brilliant: “I will spare everybody a detailed discussion of all the over-writing that occurs in these stories, except to mention how distressed I am at the number of tendrils that keep showing up. I still don’t even know for sure what a tendril is.”
6. “Her Sense of Timing,” Stanley Elkin – This is one of those stories that’s hilarious, since it’s not happening to you. Watching a disabled man struggle to host a surreally destructive party on the same day his wife leaves him has never been so hysterical.
10. “The Dinosaur,” Augusto Monterroso – So, I’ll just give you this whole story rather than try and describe it: “When [s]he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.” That’s it, and that’s brilliant.
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .
From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Egypt was going through a period of transition. The country’s people were growing unhappy with the corruption of power in the government, which had been under British rule for decades. The Egyptians’. . .
Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .
Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .