I bought another anthology of Latin American short stories at the weekend (it was actually Friday). This one was an American book, called Eye of the Heart and published by Avon Books. It’s good timing: I can start on it as soon as I’ve finished The Oxford Book of Latin American Short Stories. Apart from the very earliest writers in the Oxford book, these two books anthologise pretty much the same writers (you know who they are), but the reason why I bought it so eagerly was because they seemed to have a completely different set of stories by these same writers. In fact, of the forty of so stories in each, they only share four in common:
- Yzur, by Leopoldo Lugones (a really great story, but he wrote other good ones – I have a third copy in a book devoted to his stories)
- The Tree, by María-Louisa Bombal (which I can’t remember at all)
- The Switchman, by Juan José Arreola (an ok story, but nothing like as good as some of the stuff I have of his – Arreola seems one of those writers for whom even the short story was a bit long)
- and The Third Bank of the River, by João Guimarães Rosa
Last year, I finished another Latin American anthology, The Picador Book of Latin American Stories. This was a slightly different anthology, in that it started with Borges and came down to the present day (Eye of the Heart starts with Machado de Assis; Oxford starts with Fray Ramón Pané – but, the modern period at least, really with Machado de Assis). Again, there are a lot of the same writers (Borges, Onetti, Rulfo, Cortázar, Lispector) but with different stories … except, The Third Bank of the River, by João Guimarães Rosa. Did he write nothing else? [Actually, the answer to this is Yes – the Oxford book, which has wonderful biographical notes, points out he wrote at least three collections of short stories. There’s even an English translation: it’s called The Third Bank of the River and Other Stories (and is £200 on Amazon)].