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Thomas Colchie, ed. A Whistler in the Nightworld: Short Fiction from the Latin Americas.

Plume, 2002. 410 pp. Paper: $16.00.

As Thomas Colchie points out in his introduction to A Whistler in the Nightworld, one of the defining characteristics of new Latin American literature is its diverse, international nature. It is no longer possible to pigeonhole Latin American writing as falling under the influence of the "boom." And "magical realism" doesn't work any better. Actually, in the case of this anthology, there is a distinct, and intentional, lack of "magical realists." Instead these writers are very cosmopolitan and worldly. The subjects and styles of the stories range widely, from Pedro Juan Gutierrez's darkly lyrical depiction of an afternoon in Havana trying to scam two tourists and then almost witnessing a shooting while waiting in line for a bottle of rum, to Mayra Montero's account of a man forced to recall a disturbing event from his youth that included the family's chauffeur splitting his head open in the gallery, to Edmundo Paz-Soldan's story of an eccentric crossword-puzzle maker who includes the name of a woman he is obsessed with in all of his puzzles. Two of the more interesting stories are by Ignacio Padilla and Jorge Volpi, both members of the "Crack" group. Volpi's "Ars Poetica" is a hysterical story that opens, "I'll begin the story with a statement of principles: I am a character and I am prepared to speak (badly) of the author of the books in which I appear." "Ars Poetica" demonstrates the influence world literatures have on one another, since it is obviously more in line with Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds and Gilbert Sorrentino's Mulligan Stew than most Latin American authors (although Juan Onetti does come to mind). I wish only that other members of the "Crack" group had been included.
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Author:Post, Chad W.
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 2003
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