El ciego y los tuertos by Braulio Fernández Biggs

This surprising work by Braulio Fernández Biggs unites fourteen short stories into one collection. The element of surprise - not necessarily a merit - flourishes at the flanks, keeping the reader spellbound with a strange and fascinating brand of distress.

Of course, each text (as well as the collection in its entirety) presents a risk for the reader, on the border of the experimental. The reader ought not to expect a traditional anthology of stories, ruled by the old structure of buildup, climax and denouement. Nothing could be further from the nature of the stories told by Fernández; these tend to weave evasively, crafty and fragmented. Nevertheless, there is a constant effort at lending the work a sort of unity, albeit horizontal. Characters, places and episodes are repeated from one story to the next in such a manner that one might suppose that a second plot exists behind the first. Even so, that second plot does not have superior support or visibility compared with each story on an individual basis. There is, however, a “Coda” at the end which, though moderately, ties up some loose ends, resulting in a retrospective resonance.

Arboretum by Jotacé López

A member of the mountain guard relates his experience along with a powerful future foreman, all while he emerges from a semi-conscious state brought on by asepsis in the hospital. He has survived a whirlwind of intrigues, the traffic of human extremes and suppositions, all scrambled together on an island strictly ruled by the Corporation, an entity of which he once felt himself a part.

A mother and her child, held back by a tense relationship that moves between regret and tenderness, feel trapped in a world where environmentalism, manipulated by misinformation and powerful men, achieves precisely the opposite of its aims. He turns a blind eye to their circumstances, all while decidating himself to spying and attempting to trap an antiquities trafficker. Meanwhile, he dicovers that the Collision Space Agency, the financier of his misión, is searching for four pieces of the remains of an imperial palace in India. From the pieces a legend has grown; one of them is found, it would seem, very close to the mother. She, having been an environmental activist, throws herself into the investigation of the catastrophe in which she lost her younger daughters.