Temporada de huracanes by Fernanda Melchor
Temporada de huracanes. Fernanda Melchor. Mexico City: Literatura Random House. 2017. 223 pages.
The novel, however, does not aspire to compose a large-scale portrait of the society as per certain realist tradition. Instead Melchor, to paraphrase the words Fredric Jameson used to speak of Raymond Chandler, as a painter of the Mexican society opts for the use of fragmentary pictures of daily existence. Each chapter of the book recounts the story of one specific character, describes the social and family context, characterized by unemployment, poverty and violence, in which they live. However, the narrator also combines these descriptions with endless anecdotical invention and picaresque adventures set in the backdrop of what Gabriel Wolfson called Bruegelian imagery.
The sections of the novel comprise large and almost uninterrupted paragraphs, a narrative device which evokes, as Edmundo Paz Soldán signals in his review of the book, the style of Garcia Márquez’s The Autumn of the Patriarch. Indeed, the novel owes much to the inspiration of the so-called Magical Realism, not only due to the narrative style, but also and perhaps above all, due to the presence of a magical dimension and the references to ancestral myths. That the reference to this mythical sphere is, however, a parodical reinterpretation of Magical Realism, a way to “play with a repetition of dead forms”, as Jameson would say, is perhaps confirmed by the fact that the characters themselves oscillate between belief and skepticism when they are confronted with the possibility that an event is the result of some sort of spell, witchcraft or demonic possession. When at the end of the novel the narrator recalls the belief that a series of disgraces such as massacres, decapitations, rapes, murders may be the effects of the malas vibras (evil energies) brought about by the hurricanes, the hypothesis is implicitly discarded by the underlying ironic, self-parodic and Ibargüengoitian (“Some of the events here narrated are real. All the characters are imaginary”, recites the epigraph from Las muertas) tone of the narrating voice. Fredric Jameson wrote that in One Hundred Years of Solitude there is no magic, no metaphor, just “materialist sublime”. This description could well work for Temporada de huracanes: there is nothing marvelous or supernatural in the deeds and events narrated, only the crude horror which becomes even more unbearable and repugnant when violence is exercised against vulnerable, defenseless bodies.
Francesco Di Bernardo
Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla