The Scent of Buenos Aires: Stories by Hebe Uhart

Archipelago. Oct. 2019. 484p. ISBN 9781939810342. pap. $24. F
The recently deceased and relatively unknown Uhart was a prolific short story writer with about a dozen published collections dating back to 1962. This anthology of 38 pieces from various stages of her career marks the first book-length appearance of Uhart’s work in English. Unlike those of her compatriot Jorge Luis Borges, her tales are more grounded in reality and in domestic situations, taking place in such locales as a kitchen, a beauty salon, the zoo, organization meetings, a piano recital, and schools. Despite the title, some of the work here is set elsewhere in Argentina, including Uhart’s hometown of Moreno. The mostly female characters, levelheaded yet sensitive, generally undergo a change, but the stories eschew plot development for mood creation and generally do not end with a twist. Instead, they end quietly and subtly because that’s all Uhart has to say. Though the length varies from two to more than 30 pages, the shorter ones, such as “My New Love,” which starts out hinting at human love and ends up being canine, are exquisite because of their simplicity and singular purpose.
VERDICT These stories cover a broad spectrum of situations and will appeal to a wide range of readers. A remarkable introduction to one of the unsung women writers of Argentine letters.
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