RaveBook PostLittle Eyes is an often horrific vision of how the urge to connect online will play out ... the tone is largely grim. Schweblin has interesting ideas about the ways in which we have let our guard down with technology in order to feel connected. But these ideas never quite cohere into a satisfying narrative. Little Eyes operates as a kind of collection of loosely linked vignettes as people around the world invite these movable toys into their homes, only to realise that they can be anything but harmless fun ... there is still plenty to admire here in the way that her writing, assuredly translated by Megan McDowell, picks away at the parts of human experience that we would rather not recognise ... You do not have to be a soothsayer to work all that out, which is perhaps another problem: this novel will not really tell you anything about our tech-obsessed world that you don’t already know. ... Schweblin’s clinical manner of telling, her just-revealed dexterity at sustaining the tension of a story for a longer narrative period, and her extraordinary cuentista talent for turning a world upside down in one sentence, make of Little Eyes an intriguing trip with an explosive end. Thanks to its hybrid form, the novel is a lesson in narrative contention, as it accumulates energy for its eye-popping conclusion ... The perfect execution and charged premise embedded in the narrative system of Little Eyes gives Schweblin double powers as a fabulist and as a social critic in a time governed by anxiety ... a social analysis played in fictional key, exposing how we act when we are savagely free to do what we please, as well as the fragility of our convictions and the ways new forms of mediation reveal that, contrary to our self-perception, we were mercenaries and pirates all along, who can, in luminous moments, act like saints. The conclusion of Schweblin’s investigation, as Carlos Monsiváis used to say with unrivaled precision, will not document the reader’s optimism.
Leonardo Padura, trans. by Anna Kushner
RaveThe New York TimesMr. Padura’s novel tells this triple story without ever abandoning the general conventions of fiction. More concerned with the emotional life of its characters than with their historical roles, the novel still imparts a sense of reality, thanks to its deft handling of an astonishing quantity of information about Trotsky and Mercader’s lives. This doesn’t impair the book but it does make it a serious reading project: There is an almost courtroom rhythm to Mr. Padura’s storytelling, as if an urgent need to offer evidence had overwhelmed his ability simply to present the macabre dance between the victim and his assassin ... The three alternating stories resonate with one another, acquiring deeper meaning as they paint the complete fresco of a political paradigm’s downfall ... Ms. Kushner’s rendering of the novel in English brilliantly demonstrates her loyalty to the author’s voice. She nudges the English to give it a Cuban tone, respectful of the brutal efficiency of Mr. Padura’s Spanish, while never sacrificing the lyrical flourishes with which he occasionally bedazzles his readers.
Roberto Bolano, Trans. by Natasha Wimmer
PositiveBook PostThe Spirit of Science Fiction, now appearing in the US in Natasha Wimmer’s translation...has the charm of being a sort of raw spinoff of the extraordinary initial section of the first of Bolaño’s international hits, The Savage Detectives ... There is no way to know if the novel was unfinished or abandoned ... The book itself, now quite readable as an archival fragment, may not have had much of a chance as the product of a living author ... The fact that the novel doesn’t have an end is less problematic, in the first place because the reader is aware of its origins: it is a book found abandoned in a hard drive ... his books tend to adhere to the tradition of open-ended entropic writing that leaves the reader with the exquisite sensation of having read a story in which nothing else need be said ... Maybe it’s precisely the sense of reading a work under construction that makes The Spirit of Science Fiction such a pleasure.
Roque Larraquy, Trans. by Heather Cleary
RaveBook Post...a mutilated novel about the art of mutilating bodies ... an impeccable and quite smart translation by Heather Cleary ... The story is told through the journal of a doctor taking notes on the project. Larraquy’s embodiment of this monstrous figure is wonderfully elegant ... The reader proceeds with a cringing smile that sometimes turns to laughter and sometimes horror ... The second part of the novel, not so masterfully executed as the first but more fun and equally unfiltered and lacerating, simulates a long letter written by a famous, burned-out-but-still-fashionable contemporary artist ... Larraquy confronts this duty with the confidence of an older writer, the fun ingenuity of a prankster, and a singular faith in the powers of irony to ridicule those who misuse power given by the people.