Short-short stories are like shooting stars: they fly by quickly but they leave a brilliant impression on you. Sudden Fiction Latino is a constellation of tiny pieces of writing that reflects the high quality of literature being produced by Latinos in the United States and by writers south of the border.
Nowhere in the world, according to the editors, is the short-short story more popular than in South America, and in the United States the form is quickly on the rise among Latino writers. “This is a historic gathering of writers, because the U.S. Latinos are writers who have never forgotten their ancestral roots,” the editors state. “By placing them alongside Latin Americans, we are showing how the short-short form transcends borders and that Latin American literature’s influence continues, even as Latinos create their own literary traditions.”
The stories in the collection vary in themes and topics, as well as in length, from half a page to four pages. They represent a variety of writing schools from costumbrismo (literature of manners) to Magical Realism and Realism. The stories are written by literary masters such as Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, and Mario Benedetti, and veteran Chicano writers such as Sandra Cisneros and Rodolfo Anaya, and the younger generation of Latino authors, Junot Diaz and Luis Alberto Urrea.
In “The White Girl,” Urrea uses hip-hop and vato talk mixed with proper English to tell the story of a graffiti tagger who breaks into a junkyard and discovers a bracelet and strands of blond hair that belonged to the female victim of a deadly car accident. “2 short,” as he is known in the story, longs for the girl and assimilation into the white world.
In “The Lord of the Flies,” Argentine writer Marco Denevi narrates a half-page story about how flies dream of their god, who is also a fly, and how heaven to them is a rotten piece of meat and hell an immaculate place.
Puerto Rican author Judith Ortiz Cofer depicts a young girl who dreams of being Supergirl to escape poverty and fly back to her homeland in Puerto Rico.
Dark humor permeates “Insomnia,” a paragraph-long story written by Virgilio Piñera, who was born in Cuba. The microstory is about a man who couldn’t sleep, killed himself and still couldn’t sleep.
Junot Diaz, born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, uses ghetto slang, Dominican phrases, and sophisticated and vulgar English to tell a hot, sexy story in the second person about a girlfriend he betrayed.
Mario Benedetti, from Uruguay, pens an elegant story in “The Expression,” a tale about a young pianist who becomes an expert on facial expressions while he plays. Because of a mental illness, he forgets to play the piano, but continues to perform with only his expressions.
In the introduction of Sudden Fiction Latino, Luisa Valenzuela says that what is left out of a short story is what counts. But one could also make the argument that everything is taken out except the significant moment. What is taken out and what is left in is the high art of the short story. In choosing the stories for this collection, the editors wanted to make sure that the pieces were entertaining, meaningful, and memorable. The editors certainly don’t disappoint in their efforts to offer a collection of remarkable stories.
Posted: April 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm