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Piano Stories Paperback – January 27, 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (January 27, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811221806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811221801
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The oddness of Felisberto Hernandez, the man, may perhaps eclipse the essential weirdness of his fictions. There is somewhat of a mystery surrounding him: he was a pianist who used to work accompanying silent movies. He traveled extensively, performing concerts. He took up writing somewhat later in life, remained more or less anonymous up to his death. Today, he is hardly known outside of Latin American literature and yet has inspired the so-called `magical realism' literary movement, made popular in the works of the Nobel-prize winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Piano Stories, so named by the publishers because nearly every single story incorporates a piano, is the first collection of Felisberto's work translated into English. It is meant to serve as a representative exhibition of the writer's career. It features fifteen pieces, two of them being short novellas (`The Stray Horse' and `The Daisy Dolls') and some others no more than a page and a half long. The introduction is penned by Italo Calvino - another major writer who was apparently influenced by Hernandez.
The adjectives befitting the overall `feel' of the Piano Stories would be: elegant, absurd, surreal and otherworldly. There are repeated motifs of the nature of memory, as explored in the story `Just Before Falling Asleep' and `The Green Heart', and more extensively in `The Stray Horse' where the narrator is aware of an impending attempt to distort a series of childhood memories, for if a person were capable of changing his memories, as one changes stage settings, would that not result in a different person inhabiting the present?
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Format: Paperback
Felisberto Hernendez' Piano Stories is a rare book indeed. His stories were the precursors of what is now called "magic realsim" (the style of writers such as Garcia-Marquez and Jeanette Winterson), but his tales are truly unique. They are concered with the haunting mysteries of life, and have a dreamy, otherworldly quality which draws you inextricably into them. A cast of eccentric characters and off-the-wall occurrences will keep you on your toes. I kept putting off reading the last story in the book, because I didn't want the fun to be over.
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Un autor particular, extraordinario, que te hace sentir todo el sabor (y la complcadez) de lo que te cuenta
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Un autor particular, extraordinario, que te hace sentir todo el sabor (y la complicadez) de lo que te cuenta. Cuenta cosas que parecen complicadas. Lo son para describirlas, pero todos las hemos vivido. Y cuenta tan bien, en las entrnhas de las cosas, que cuando lo leas casi te sientes mal
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