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Complete Works and Other Stories (Texas Pan American Series) Paperback – 1995


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Editorial Reviews

Review

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)

Review

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)
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Product Details

  • Series: Texas Pan American Series
  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press (1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292751842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292751842
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,195,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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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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 writers (and other story-tellers), readers, reviewers, critics, researchers, musicians, artists 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 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 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. Resembling Swift ("A Modest Proposal"), Kafka, and Borges before him, Monterroso uses a precise, crisp and almost dispassionate writing style to put forth the most absurd and outrageous of fictions.
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