Translation by: femme/600/October 21 2005
In a periplus of eleven short stories, this Mexican author offers a Latin American image of a magical world that is sometimes indigenous, other times urban, but which has nothing to do with regional manners and customs.
One could say that it is, at times, difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality in spite of the fact that the eleven works of writing have a very specific story to relate.
For example, the case of Soldier stands out in which the protagonist, a low-ranking military man, meets up with his own fears, face to face, the horror of the unspeakable, and the anxiety surrounding death after having participated in the massacre of guerilla fighters on a mountain in southern Mexico.
From time to time, the author plays around with an image of a short story that is of the investigative type. That is to say, he writes stories in which the characteristics of the black short story are brought together.But the result is not the classic one of this genre like in The Spider's Web in which a polliceman investigates the death of his own father and has to suspend his investigation when an unexpected incident occurs. And in Cadaver in which a party's host inopportunely dies but the following day nobody knows where to find his body, people waver between two different versions of what happened to it: either it was devoured by his guests or it disappeared after a Satanic worship ceremony.
Solitude is a kind of inverse legend, the legend being seen from the protagonist's point of view. The protagonist is unable to understand his fate. He is a man who in his youth was fond of eatiing halllucinogenic mushrooms at the bottom of a canyon. He goes out in search of a woman whom the people of his region consider an interpreter of the ancient gods. He gets lost along the way and is never able to go back to where he came from. He lives lost among the mountains like a ghost that people leave candles for against the roots of the gigantic trees.
In It's Been a Long Time Since We Left Home, in the story that gives the volume its title, Roberto Ramirez Bravo seems to render homage to Argentine writer Julio Cortazar.
This story is related by a man-child who follows in the footsteps of a man, father or older brother figure and runs all over the world with him until he discovers the truth about his life.
Oh, Paradise is a Mexican tragedy with song lyrics by the Portugese group Madredeus as the backdrop. There is a breakup of a love affair, psychological pain, an unnamable kind of emptiness, and finally, the horror, the petals of which are torn away like those of a daisy.
Also, the world of childhood is taken up again in the Flight of the Fly in which a child about six years old relates his adventures and his disputes with his younger sister from his personal perspective. Other stories include Dream Theft II, Only the Sea Was Singing, and He.
Lemon Blossom Dream is a separate case. Everything is a play of mirrors between reality and that which is unreal. In this story, each fragment of reallity is reflected and the image that the glass returns is different than this reality. An adolescent lives the fourteen years of his life locked up in a big, rambling house, guarded by his aunt and uncle who tell him that the world outside is contaminated with the awful death that the French brought with them when they invaded Mexico in 1853 and that whoever leaves the house will die. But the whold thing is a lie: the boy is lliving during the 1980's, other children play in the town square, and a French girl, more of a fantasy than real, teaches him games using balls, about airplanes, the ways of the world, and his path in life. But none of it is the truth.
In this, his third book, the author shows us the world that he came to live in from a personal angle. In a certain kind of way, it is a novelty in contemporary Mexican story-telling.