Sanitary Centennial and Selected Short Stories

Fernando Sorrentino, Author, Thomas C. Meehan, Translator University of Texas Press $27.75 (186p) ISBN 978-0-292-77608-1
With goodnatured humor, Argentine writer Sorrentino deflates pompous bureaucrats, advertising models, respectable swindlers, deliberately obscure poets, publicity seekers and self-deceiving snobs. To read him is to realize the extent to which our media-saturated environment is surfeited with half-truths, exaggerations, packaged personalities and phoniness. In the sometimes hilarious title novella, an advertising copywriter is assigned to write stirring hype trumpeting a toilet manufacturer's centennial, but he is not flushed with total success. The six short stories in this volume include parodies, fantasies, Kafkaesque fables. Simple tasks like fixing a lock become absurd, monstrous nightmares. The narrator of ``In Self-Defense'' bestows incredible gifts on his neighbora train, a mink coat, an armored tankto atone for a minor mishap, but each gift conceals a deadly trick. Is Sorrentino satirizing the indifference of neighbors, the rigidity of social conventions or the defensive mental armor we wear? It's impossible to tell, and in this ambiguity lies the story's haunting power. This sparkling translation makes available a writer who deserves a wide audience among English-language readers. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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