Although Franco didn't die until 1975, when he relinquished his premiership in 1973 it signaled the beginning of a new era of freedom for Spain. After 36 years of Francoism and a literature engagee , the 29 Castilian, Majorcan and Catalan writers represented here are experimenting with what Spanish literature is. Many have availed themselves of the latest profitable import from the New World, magic realism, producing some of the most effective pieces such as Juan Jose Millas's ``The Lecture,'' about a professor's successful attempts to keep a dead body from both discovery and decay; ``Child Rodolfo,'' Robert Saladrigas's piece on a mysterious tour guide; and Javier Marias's romantic correspondence with the dead in ``As the Women Sleep.'' A mystical eroticism infuses stories by Carme Rier, Pedro Zarraluki and Javier Garcia Sanchez while others offer a deeply moving reconsideration of bourgeois mores--none more poignantly than Esther Tusquets in her ``Summer Orchestra.'' Although the work of numerous different translators, the flowing language is consistently measured, matter-of-fact, self-conscious and aware of life's absurdities. These stories make for a seductive introduction to the art of short fiction in Spain. (May)
This exciting anthology features work by 29 writers from Spain. Most were born after the Civil War, launched their careers in Franco's fading years, and experienced the heady struggle for freedom that followed his long-awaited death. Typically, their work has hints of mystery and terror, a comfortable cosmopolitanism with few recognizably Spanish settings, and an unselfconscious eroticism. A vibrant yet disturbing example of its excellence is Luis Mateo Diez's tale of a sailor's friendship with a pathetic weakling newly arrived in a big port city. After doing everything possible to help the sickly youth, he puts him beyond his misery with a knife slash in the back. Esther Tusquets's story of how rich little Sara discovers the shallow values of the adult world is similarly memorable. Most regions and languages of culturally diverse Spain are represented, and a quarter of the authors are women. The editor provides a valuable introduction and short biographies of the authors. Recommended for most collections.-Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.