A Dream Come True: The Collected Stories of Juan Carlos Onetti

Archipelago. Nov. 2019. 560p. ISBN 9781939810465. pap. $26;. F
One of the greats of Spanish American literature, Uruguayan Onetti, noted primarily for his novels, has enjoyed less dissemination of his short stories; until now they have not been widely available to English-speaking audiences. This retrospective collection captures for the first time in English all 50 of Onetti’s short stories in chronological order from 1933 until his death 60 years later. Ranging from three paragraphs to novella length, the stories are often set in Onetti’s microcosmic Santa Maria, the mythical urban location that unites these scenarios to those of his longer works. The dense writing, grim if not macabre atmospheres, melancholy characters leading futile lives of misery and despair, and generally unsettling but often inexact endings necessitate an attentive if not subsequent reading. Witness the dire situation of the female protagonist in “As Sad as She,” which leaves her only one fateful choice; or the woman in the eponymous “A Dream Come True,” who asks an impresario to mount a play based on a strange dream she had; or Charlie in “Montaigne,” who invites six friends to attend his suicide.
VERDICT The haunting yet engaging stories in this comprehensive collection will expose Onetti to a much broader readership than has heretofore existed.
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