The Complete Stories

New Directions. Aug. 2015. 640p. ed. by Benjamin Moser. tr. from Portuguese by Katrina Dodson. ISBN 9780811219631. $28.95. F
Because as a writer she was indifferent to plot and because she happened to be very beautiful, Lispector (1920–77) in her lifetime was more talked about than read. Since her death, however, she has been rediscovered and hailed as a female Franz Kafka. As a child, Lispector told stories to her dying mother in hopes of keeping her alive. She felt a kinship with the muteness of animals, but as she watches through the railings at the zoo in "The Buffalo," it is their being "trapped in this mutual murder" that is her epiphany. In another story a woman with a broken tooth opts for suicide over a visit to the dentist. "The Fifth Story" exists in five phases or versions, the first being the most literal (the task of killing a cockroach) and the final one, "Leibnitz and the Transcendence of Love in Polynesia," dissociating itself from the cockroach theme entirely.
VERDICT Lispector has a mystic's regard for transcendent perception. Her fiction, while difficult, can illuminate on many levels, and certain intrepid readers will delight in the labyrinths she constructs for them.
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