From Publishers Weekly
Uruguayan fabulist Hernandez (1902-1964) influenced Calvino and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, among others, but the appeal of these fey tales that introduce him to an English-speaking audience and that recount the adventures of a poor pianist may elude the casual reader. For Hernandez, inanimate objects have a will and conscience of their own. About a red pencil used by his music teacher, the narrator exclaims, "like a piglet suckling in quick, short bursts, it would cling hungrily to the white of the page, leaving little sharp footprints with its short black hoof and merrily wagging its long red tail." In another story, the narrator plays the piano for an agoraphobic who believes that her balcony has a soul and that, jealous over the attention she pays to the narrator, the balcony has jumped from the building. Other strange doings involve a promotional scheme for a furniture store whereby promoters inject would-be customers with a serum that sensitizes them to special advertising broadcasts, and a woman who dresses up a doll that resembles her in her own clothing and whose husband eventually falls in love with the doll. Hernandez's imagination is extremely fertile, but his prose, at least in this translation, is baggy and he tends to trot out intriguing but ultimately meaningless phrases: "She leaned her bare arms on the panes as if she were resting them on someone's breast."
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
With his unusual name, difficult life, and eccentric employment as a pianist who worked in movie houses, Uruguayan writer Hernández (1902–64) seemed destined for obscurity. Instead, this selection of astonishing stories, translated by Luis Harss and accompanied by a preface by Francine Prose and a 1974 introduction by the late Italo Calvino, should rescue him. Calvino calls him an irregular and means it as a compliment. Prose compares him to the great Polish writer Bruno Schulz. Clarice Lispector comes to mind. Hernández is a species of magic realist who arrived long before the term was meaningful. Most of his stories are told in the first person, cover a short period of time, and involve some mournful comedy. Most revolve around a Kafkaesque conceit. A poor usher discovers that his eyes work like flashlights and becomes obsessed and reckless with his new power. A forlorn woman who lost her husband loves water, floods her house, and we are swept away. This book will change lives. --Michael Autrey