(CLASSIC: from The Garden Party and Other Stories, Penguin Classics)
This is a vivid and beautifully crafted story about a girl’s natural inclination to cancel a party after a local man is killed and her family’s, particularly her mother’s, determination to continue with it. Mansfield takes the quite simple setting of a garden party to weave together a richly imagined tale of adolescence, family friction and class conflict in New Zealand. Laura’s personal journey remains with you long after finishing the story. The ending raises questions but this is an almost perfect short story.
(MODERN: from Last Evenings on Earth, Vintage)
With typical urgency and giving the sense he’s drawing on personal experience, Bolaño tells the story of a Chilean photographer living in exile in Argentina and then Mexico. The key development in the story comes when the Eye, a man who tries to keep himself out of trouble, finds himself on assignment in India and becomes caught up in a grotesque prostitution lair. The impossibility of avoiding violence and exploitation for South Americans of Bolaño’s generation is a central theme of his work and this is a dark and haunting story that is unlike anything else you’re likely to read.
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