Leopoldina's Dream

Silvina Ocampo, Author Penguin Books $6.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-14-010011-2
This collection by the Argentine author contains stories written in the 1940s, '50s and '60s. All 32 pieces reflect Ocampo's emphasis on style over plot and characterization, and her predilection for the surreal and mystical. Manifest throughout and always voiced in Ocampo's subtle, understated tones are themes of sin and forgiveness, of love and infidelity, of illness, death and murder. In ``Voice on the Telephone,'' Fernando declares that ``children's parties depress me'' and that he avoids lighting cigarettes, and then reveals that, at his fourth birthday party, he and his friends locked their mothers in a room and set fire to the house. In ``The Sibyl,'' a burglar encounters a young girl in a home he is robbing; she unexpectedly tells him, `` `You are the Lord, because you have a beard . . . . A Lord, to whom we must give all that we have.' '' And in the fascinating ``The Punishment,'' a tormented woman tells her lover a backwards version of her life story, proceeding from present to past and admitting just before she dies, `` `Remembering the past is killing me.' '' These tales are eerily compelling, and Ocampo is a master of graceful, delicate writing, admirably translated by Balderston. But ultimately, her concentration on surreal, stylized situations renders the works opaque, and detaches the reader from her characters. (October)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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