Saturday, May 17, 2014

Jacinta Escudos' Cuentos sucios

Jacinta Escudos’ Cuentos sucios (1997) [123 pp.] is a collection of eight short stories that clearly show the author’s talent and hard work at the craft of storytelling.  Each situation, from the first story though the last, is intense, captivating, and unusual.

"She came in through the bathroom window" is about a woman who comes in to a man's apartment through the bathroom window and the silent power struggle that emerges between her and the man that lives there.  He is accustomed to dominating and lording power over the women he dates, but he recognizes that he cannot do the same with this woman: “lo noté desde el momento que te vi entrar por la ventana del baño.  éstas en esa edad en que sabes que ahora te toca poner las reglas a ti.  me gustaría jugar contigo, cariño, pero ese juego no me conviene” (12).  Does the woman actually exist or did he imagine her?  In a male dominated society men are the ones with the power to re-present women and they often do so in ways that caricaturize women and make them into pretty and unthreatening objects.  It is interesting to think about what might happen if men imagined women as they are, as complete human beings who cannot be so easily subjugated and who might even be dangerous.  

Additionally this first story introduces the reader to Escudos' innovative use of punctuation that the author uses to set off changes in narrators and to introduce other media.  She disregards typical capitalization rules which I find refreshing.  Lyrics to Beatles songs, set off by bold print "play" throughout the story.  It would be interesting to re-read the story now paying close attention to Jacinta Escudos' playlist as an inter-text that influences the tone, contributes to the way the story is read and shifts the way the reader might interpret the story:

She came in through the bathroom window

Here comes the sun

Carry that weight

You never give me your money

Mean Mr. Mustard

Golden Slumbers

The End

Other fascinating stories include Costumbres pre-matrimoniales, ¿Y ese pequeño rasguño en tu mejilla?, Sin remitente (my absolute favorite), and Y todos esos hombres, viéndome.  These are reviewed very well by Luis Guillermo in Camarón que se muere amanece sin ojeras and Beatriz Cortez.

The final story, La noche de los escritores asesinos, is about Boris and Rossana, two writers and ex-guerrillas whose relationship dissolves because of Boris' jealousy of Rossana's talent.  Maureen Shea (istmo) and Misha Kokotovic have written excellent analyses of that story.  

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