Alice Whitmore

One of my favourite characterisations of the short story comes, unsurprisingly, from Jorge Luis Borges. In a 1982 interview with Fernando Sorrentino, Borges attributes the short story’s strength to its economy; to its muscular form, trimmed of all fat. A three-hundred-page novel, he says, ‘necessarily contains a certain amount of padding, pages whose only purpose is to connect one part of the novel to the other. In a short story, on the other hand, it is possible for everything to be essential, or more or less essential, or – at the very least – to appear to be essential.’ One might say the same about a good anthology: there is no space for filler, no room for error; every story must be essential, or – at the very least – must appear to be essential.

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Requiem with Yellow Butterflies begins, aptly, with a death. Sitting at his office in Brisbane, the author receives news that Gabriel García Márquez has died at his home in Mexico. Across the world, there is a mushrooming of obituaries. Garlands of yellow butterflies are draped from trees and buildings; outside Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes ...

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Melodrome by Marcelo Cohen, translated by Chris Andrews

by
November 2018, no. 406

‘I didn’t realise I was becoming untranslatable,’ Marcelo Cohen confessed after the publication of his eleventh novel, in an interview with Argentine newspaper Clarín. ‘And when I did realise, it was already too late.’ Given that Cohen is himself a renowned translator – the list of authors he has translated into Spanish ...

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Given that the unnamed narrator–protagonist of Mariana Dimópulos’s All My Goodbyes (Cada despedida) has difficulty putting together and understanding her own fractured, nomadic life, it is perhaps not surprising that we readers have to call on all of our faculties to reconstruct her narrative – but it is well worth the effort ...

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