Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hernán Vanoli: Varadero y Habana Maravillosa

Pablo Toledo reviews Hernán Vanoli's Varadero y Habana Maravillosa.
Throughout the book, something is always itching and whispering threatening yet indistinct words from a spot we cannot quite place, let alone reach. There are always missing pieces to the puzzle, a gap at the core of the story that is not explained, not even hinted at. Unlike the worldbuilding techniques of conventional sci-fi, bent on presenting coherent, rock-solid worlds, the open ends are everything here.
This tantalizing suggestion of the dark, this careful management of (mis)information, is Vanoli’s most daring and rewarding trait, and makes the stories profoundly unsettling: that, and the fact that they strike so close to home, that their tone is spot-on, that the characters and plots are like so many kicks in the teeth. Every sentence strikes the nail square on the head, every element builds the story, every story is a powerful statement.
Besides gritty and hardhitting, these stories are truly and powerfully political: no explicit references or commentary (plenty of that at Vanoli’s blogs, and, but a texture of reality imbricated with a social fibre, the presence of political struggle in its everyday dimension. Like the alterations of reality, this political reading is so organic to the stories that it does not need stating: there are no manifestos and yet a point is made; there are no epic gestures but that makes it epic.
So far, Hernán Vanoli was available as a name in collective short story anthologies: in his first solo flight, he proves a rigorous, original, uncompromising writer with an unmistakeable voice. At 30, that’s saying something.
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