LA PINGÜINITA TRAGALDABAS y otras historias (The Insatiable Penguin)

Enrique López Yáñez

Publisher: Palibrio Pages: 116 Price: (paperback) $11.95 ISBN: 9781463322427 Reviewed: October, 2013 Author Website: Visit »

In this collection, the author presents 17 short stories organized within four sections: La Noche, Los Sueños, La Vida and El Adiós (The Night, The Dreams, The Life and The Goodbye). The majority of these offbeat, dark stories seem to be set in Mexico and concern existentialism and misfortune galore.

La Noche presents stories about resentful men; In Los Sueños, characters ponder war and religion, such as the story of a female penguin named Tragaldabas (Insatiable) who talks to God by way of the stars. The most entertaining story of the La Vida section — and of the collection — is “La Breve Vida” (“The Short Life”). This piece provides a delightful description of the brief life of a blood-sucking female insect named Maestra, who flies into a car with other insects after taking blood from a cow and in the process gets grossly squashed by the wipers. The odd El Adiós section starts with a story about a jealous woman and includes a tale that advises against adopting rats as pets.

This uneven collection has its high and low points. The author’s use of Mexican colloquialisms make the stories accessible and add a modern feel to the tales. But too often, the pieces can read like unfinished drafts, changing course unexpectedly. The story “El Inicio” (“The Beginning”), for example, goes from a thread involving a dying scientist, a dead dinosaur and some sort of earth cataclysm, to inserting a space, three dots in the middle of the page, another space, and a very short description of a soldier waking up from a dream to end the story. Readers will struggle to make sense of it all.

Overall, this book requires great effort to connect all the stories within the stories. While some people may find this challenge appealing, the majority of readers are likely to be frustrated and confused at the vagueness of meaning and give up on the collection long before the final story.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Mexico City, Mexico
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