This collection of 50 parable-like stories is a reflection on life and the wisdom age brings with it. The stories, whose lengths average about a page each, are essentially free-floating fragments linked by a loose narrative about a metaphoric journey the narrator embarks on.
Though the stories are given essayistic titles such as “Del Espejo” or “Del Héroe” (“Of Mirrors,” “Of Heroes”), these are not essays in any conventional sense; rather, they’re microfictions that reflect on a particular topic. The story about the mirror, for example, focuses on an apprentice who stares into a mirror until he manages to see past its surface and discovers “misterios que duelen pero que lo impulsan” (mysteries that pain him, but that motivate him).
As Jesus discovered, to speak in parables is to risk being misinterpreted. One drawback to this collection is that it’s occasionally difficult to grasp the point the author is trying to make, as his messages are often concealed behind all the superficial actions taking place. The story “De los viajes de libertad” (“Of Freedom Journeys”), for example, about a fisherman and the fish he catches and releases, cites so many types of metaphorical explorations (comings and goings, dreams and hopes, the quest for freedom) that one can often feel one is being given too many options to meditate on. It seems the author was purposefully vague; instead of offering concrete themes, the journey is what the reader makes of it.
Though flawed, this touching collection manages to uncover deep truths while deliberately avoiding the clichés found too often in mystical writing. While the “usual suspects” in contemporary allegory (the dance, the fisherman, the mirror) appear, author Mariano Alberto Caballero Lora manages to offer them in a different light. This book is not for everyone, but an open-minded reader can expect occasional insights and the fruits of a lifetime’s experience.