This Is Not America: Stories

Atria. Jul. 2019. 224p. ISBN 9781982104719. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781982104733. short stories.
The recurring scenario in these nine stories by Catalonian writer Puntí (Lost Luggage) is a relationship the male protagonist carries out with varying degrees of commitment and intensity. In “Kidney,” Gori grapples with a request to donate a kidney to his estranged brother. The hitchhiker in “Blinker” routinely but inexplicably thumbs rides while carrying his mysterious briefcase. The main character in “Vertical” wanders through Barcelona neighborhoods seeking consolation after his lover’s death. Las Vegas gambler Miquel Franquesa discovers an unusual talent that favors the casino in “The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes.” Attempting to rekindle romance with his wife, Mauri of “Seven Days on a Love Boat” plans a Paris vacation but ends up going on a cruise by himself instead. Ibon’s idealistic obsession with Anna in “Consolation Prize” fades once they get acquainted.
VERDICT Puntí here expands his English-language repertoire with a compilation commissioned (and in some cases rewritten) between 2000 and 2016, deriving its title from a 1985 song by David Bowie and Pat Metheny. The wry humor makes it an appropriate introduction to the works of a rising Iberian writer.

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