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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Complete Works (and Other Stories)", playing Monterroso's games

Complete Works and Other stories (Obras Completas y Otros Cuentos, Spanish original title)- Augusto Monterroso

Yes, as a regular reader, I have been confronted with "The Dinosaur", the most famous short story? of Guatemalan writer Augusto Monterroso. But unlike many of these readers I don't find his "immortal" one-sentence that remarkable. I remember asking myself: so what? Many years have passed since then, but after reading this "Complete Works (and Other Stories)" I have the same question: so what?

His prose is inventive, witty, (occasionally) humorous, and sometimes sharp (usually when he refers to history or politics) and often we are immersed into a self-referential story about writers/artists. His style is compared with Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges, authors that, like Monterroso, are highly appreciated at literature classes and frequently referred by other authors. But excuse me for what many will consider a literary heresy, but I believe these sort of authors are mainly worried by their style instead of the content.

The case of Monterroso is no different. This book is a mere divertissement, with some entertaining and enjoyable  stories ("Mister Taylor" and "First Lady" are the ones I would highlight) but an overall feeling form is way ahead of substance. If you decide to enter Monterroso's games, be prepared to play. A curious world indeed, but not really my taste of literature.

SCORE: 4,5/10

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