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.
Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .
There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .
In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .
I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
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.. . .