This collection of traditional and experimental stories by Argentinian novelist Bioy Casares ( The Adventures of a Photographer in La Plata ) offers sophisticated, seamless prose, as well as magical realism and biting political satire. His characters are motivated by lust, avarice and vanity but elicit sympathy because of their vulnerability. In the title story, a fortune hunter joins an ecological expedition in pursuit of a millionaire’s daughter; but the father is swallowed by an enormous pollution-feeding caterpillar, and when the daughter takes over her father’s factory, she renounces her former ecological stance. In another story, a notary public recovering from hepatitis stays near a lake and meets Doctor Salmon’s niece, who asks him to prove his love for her by letting her uncle transform them both into fish. Many of the stories are fantasies, often centering on shocking events–an actor is shot by supporters of a dictatorship for playing a republican who cries, “Oh liberty!” and an angelic-looking girl breakfasts on her parents after being given an appetite stimulant. Throughout Casares surprises and entertains in these suspenseful stories.
Here is another of my #readtheworldathon books, this time for the square located furthest away from me. I’d already read The Invention of Morel and adored it so figured a collection of Casares short stories would be a perfect choice.
What I love about Casares is that his stories are just so strange and full of surprises. It’s hard to describe really, but the stories are full of magic and creativeness. They don’t quite live up to The Invention of Morel but were still a very enjoyable read. I won’t say too much about the stories themselves as that would risk giving away some of the twists.
Overall though, this was a fantastic collection for those wanting to read more magical realism stories. I would recommend this, however if you’ve not read Casares then I would first direct you to The Invention of Morel which is a brilliant novella and then, if you enjoyed that, you can come enjoy these stories too.