This series is just as cute as I remembered.
Loved the way the city is part and parcel (something I can enjoy even more now that I know the places this talks about), and that the kids are such flawed little hellions. Their little prides and petty fights where so spot on, as are the friendships they develop.
Bit of a dark-horse list-wise, but since it fits so well, there it goes to fill my Amateur Sleuth square besides my non-English reading project.
I understand now why this one is classified as European lit all the time. I haven't researched it, but I'm pretty sure this one was written after Cortázar left Argentina, because the five stories in this volume are all set in Paris.
I was not that dazzled by this too much at first but then, my bar with Cortázar is "Bestiario", and that's a hard one to upstage in the wow (weird, awesome, uncomfortable, puzzling) factor.
Cartas de Mamá, leaving aside the historical parallelism that some scholar or other wants to saddle on it, was an excellent exercise on revealing the past through the present. Many authors could learn a thing or two about how to do back-story. Of course, back-story is the whole issue here: sins and regrets that turn into silences, and that end that is half fantasy, half delayed acknowledgement. And the great opening line:
"Muy bien hubiera podido llamarse libertad condicional."
Los Buenos Servicios was a very scathing look at how moneyed people use "the help", many times frivolously, and often callously, and how hollow the "throw money at it" approach is, which is more jarring (and ridiculous) from the poised view of Francinet. She had more class than any of the cast.
Las Babas del Diablo is a POV nightmare. As it tends to happen when I read magical-realism, I enter a weird state where I'm paying close attention, but at the same time relax my mind and just go with it. Like suspension of disbelief, but I just suspend logic and sometimes even grammar. I find it pays off with many complex or weird plots, or speculative fiction too. Triggers galore in this one, and one VERY uncomfortable suspicion.
"El Perseguidor", now here is the jewel of the book, and the point where I started to love this collection. It was absolutely engrossing. I understand why it has been known to be edited as "El Perseguidor y otras historias". This one got to me, emotionally-wise, and I'm not even quite sure why. I guess it's that desperate search.
"Las Armas Secretas" you know how it's going to go almost from go. Or maybe it's that I've read enough Cortázar to understand the clues he leaves. Or, maybe more, this sense of having read one of his before, about a big house in San Isidro, that has similar elements, but I can't remember to which collection it belonged to contrast.
You know, the more I write, the higher I want to star this. I realize it made my brain jog, and my thoughts come back to it whenever I wasn't reading.
Not his best, but for "El Perseguidor" alone, so worth owning it. I predict re-reads.
And there it goes my 4th of July extra. I devoured it, lol
Found it! Finally!
I'd lost this volume going a third in, and couldn't find it even after putting the house on rear end and back again. As it usually happens, I found it about a month after I gave up, in a perfectly reasonable spot.
Anyway, onto the book itself: It used to be one of my mom's favorites on her early adolescence, which she recently found buried among a a bunch of thing of my grandparents. She cajoled me into reading it, and it was a good thing I gave in.
This collection's short stories aren't such as much as introspective vignettes, character studies more than plot, and while many would find that detracting, their excellency turns this volume into a great book.
The theme, while not overt, I would say is uprooting and estrangement. Plus a dose of coming of age in many cases. Very much autobiographic, as the author was an Italian immigrant.
It's a quick read, bittersweet, even depressing at times, if beautifully written. Very much worth it.