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Complete Works (And Other Stories) (Texas Pan American Series) Hardcover – January, 1996

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Product Details

  • Series: Texas Pan American Series
  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; 1st edition (January 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292751834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292751835
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,039,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Sophisticated wit and playful surrealist fantasy dominate these ingenious and gently mocking tales, by a Guatemalan-born soul mate to the late Jorge Luis Borges. This first English translation of Monterroso’s work offers the contents of his two published collections, Complete Works and Other Stories (1959) and Perpetual Motion (1972). They’re a monument, if that isn’t the wrong word, to this entertaining author’s trademark ‘concision and wit. (Kirkus Reviews) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Monterroso is certainly the leading living Guatemalan writer. . . . His microcuentos are finely honed, highly ironic, sophisticated pieces which are both very good literature and excellent pedagogical devices. I would liken his short stories to some of Borges' more accessible ones, with the added dimension of political commitment. (Cynthia Steele, author of Politics, Gender, and the Mexican Novel, 1968-1988: Beyond the Pyramid) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David C. Kuss on July 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The back cover of this small volume boasts a blurb, which proclaims, "Monterroso is certainly the leading living Guatemalan writer..." Not being quite an expert on Guatemalan literature myself, I cannot personally vouch for this statement. What I can swear to, however, is the fact that this compilation of writings by Augusto Monterroso is a collection of brilliant short fictions, which quickly call to mind the works of Swift, Sterne, Kafka, J.L. Borges, and Italo Calvino (among others). Reminiscent of Borges, Monterroso is a master of the self-referential (art about art/books about books); his fictions abound with tales of the weaknesses and general absurdities of writers (and other story-tellers), bibliophiles, reviewers, critics, researchers, musicians, artists and other intellectual and historical figures who may or may not be "real." Like his predecessors, Monterroso's fictions often challenge our assumptions about literature and its conventions. He freely plays with the forms of fiction; there are short stories
"disguised" as letters, essays, and aphorisms. Several of his stories are far shorter in length than the literary quotes he uses to introduce them. One of these, "The Dinosaur," (perhaps his most well-known work) is a mere 8 words long ("When he awoke, the dinosaur was still there."). In other instances, his fictions mirror the rambling nature of the spoken word itself, as they amble on and meander for some 3 or 4 pages without a single bit of punctuation prior to the concluding period.
Like his (above mentioned) literary forbearers, Monterroso is a master of satire, irony, and the absurd.
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By Glenn Russell on April 16, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hard to categorize tongue-in-cheek dark humor, subtle irony and offbeat satire, anyone? Here’s a book of tall-tall tales and short-short stories from a Latin American ‘boom’ generation author large in literary stature but short in physical stature (he was 5’3”) – Honduras’s Augusto Monterroso (1921-2003). And before I say anything else, “Complete Works and Other Stories’ contains perhaps the shortest story ever written. Here it is: THE DINOSAUR – “When he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.” And also a close second: FECUNDITY – “Today, I feel well, like a Balzac; I am finishing this line.” And, why not? Also a close third: THE WORLD – “God has not yet created the world; he is only imagining it, as if he were half asleep. That is why the world is perfect, but confused.” But, please, don’t be thrown off; there are longer pieces – 1 and 2 pages, 3 and 4 pages and, occasionally, even up to 15 and 20 pages. Observations on several of my favorites:

One of the most memorable short stories you will ever read, while you’re still alive and not turned into a shrunken head, that is. Anyway, an American anthropologist travels to Central American and lives with a forest tribe. He sends the tribe's shrunken heads back to the US and makes a fortune. The demand for shrunken heads skyrockets but the tribe runs out. Well, when the government realizes a huge fortune can be made via exported shrunken heads, a strategy is developed in concert with the anthropologist’s field work to maximally cash in on shrunken heads. How? Let’s just say that if you are poor and living in that country, you had better watch out!
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Format: Paperback
SUMMARY: A great and hilarious sketchbook with smaller literary forms, but I wish that story subjects were treated more thoroughly.

RECOMMENDED IF YOU LIKE: Borges, Yourgrau, Calvino, Kundera

MONTERROSO'S COMPLETE WORKS AND OTHER STORIES contain two volumes of stories in a single book. The stories are compressed, satirical and chiefly about bookish subjects. In some stories the style is frenetic and a series of jarring images and exclamations. Many of the stories seem essayistic; the second volume Perpetual Motion contains a series of short themes -- some of which are not fictional at all. Most of the narratives are self-conscious; in the penultimate story Brevity the narrator says,
The truth is that the writer of short pieces wants nothing more in this world than to write long texts, interminably long texts in which the imagination does not have to work, in which facts, things, animals and men meet, seek each other out, exist, live together, love, or shed their blood freely without being subjected to the semicolon or the period." (From "Brevity")

The final story "Errata and Final Notice" points out alleged errors earlier in the book, adding that the book ends on page 152, this "does not mean it could not also begin here in a backward motion as useless and irrational as the one undertaken by the reader to reach this point."

Clever stuff. My favorite story Leopoldo (His labors) describes a man who considers himself a writer and is regarded as one by friends and family, and yet does little of what may be called writing. Instead, he cogitates at great length about writing, goes through several drafts and spends months agonizing about whether a porcupine or dog should win in a fight in one of his stories.
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