BOOKS | Review of Magalí Etchebarne’s story book ‘The Best Days’, Ribera del Duero Short Fiction Award | The Spanish Newspaper

BOOKS | Review of Magalí Etchebarne’s story book ‘The Best Days’, Ribera del Duero Short Fiction Award | The Spanish Newspaper
BOOKS | Review of Magalí Etchebarne’s story book ‘The Best Days’, Ribera del Duero Short Fiction Award | The Spanish Newspaper

With four long stories gathered under the title The life ahead, Magalí Etchebarne (Buenos Aires, 1983) has won the eighth edition of the prestigious Ribera del Duero Prize for Short Fiction. The Argentine writer is also the author of another book of stories, The best days (2019), and from a collection of poems, How to cook a wolf (2023).

One of the virtues of this volume, perhaps the most obvious, lies in the way in which Etchebarne has managed to bring together the four stories narrating an everyday painhelpful, calm and thickening that does not forget his most human side: the humor. The black cracks that pain opens in the characters that inhabit these stories, the conflicts that develop around old age, work, death and love – the four cardinal points of the book – are filled with the whitish paste of a humor that does not break the ice, but caresses it in a contained rage drawn here in the form of freedom. The title wants to account for a double, read ironic, reading of reality.

The second element that should not go unnoticed is that of the open spaces, displaced and as if in constant flight in which four stories that don’t seem invented and that they do not dive into the oppressive, saturated, or suffocating side of life. Nothing seems to lie ahead, quite the contrary. In contrast, the interior time in which the characters live and coexist is oppressive, saturated and suffocating, with the saving valve of humor, which here can do everything.

Wars

In Stones used by womenthe story revolves around the idea of illness and agingand marks the tempo of the entire book by pointing to a leitmotiv recurring: “Old age is a war”, but it is not the only one. Love, work, everyday life, small gestures, the world of objects, looks, unsaid things, travel are also a war in this book… In A love like ours Friendship at work is tested in another journey described with the tinge of destinations that go to search for what no longer exists.

In ash seasonmemorable story, two sisters remain united to the last meaningful act: throwing the ashes of a mother remembered from a tenderness beyond death: “Tenderness is expensive, but it is the only thing that can save you; it is not love. The “love without tenderness leaves you alone, it is a present that someone sends you from a distance,” the woman had told one of the daughters. dead mother.

And the very notable Almost always desperate indicates one of the greatest contrasts of the work: a couple that travels towards their very marked decline knowing the inevitability to which they appeal (“Now, they have been together for ten years and he lives persecuted by invisible forces. Forces that disorder and watch him while it lives. The mischievous claws of imperfection that scratch behind almost everything.”)

Well, with everything, the most obvious kafkaesque side of this volume – pain is tragicomic; the world, arbitrary – is marked by the possibilities of a writing as energetic as it is delicate, as resounding as it is subtle, turning the intention not into knowledge, but into the recognition of what devastates us and which has “its tempo and its power, if “it does not prolong, it branches.”

‘The life ahead’

Magalí Etchebarne

Ribera del Duero Prize for Short Fiction

Foam Pages

120 pages. 16 euros

 
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