Cape Horn and Other Stories from the End of the World

Francisco Coloane, Author, David A. Petreman, Translator Latin American Literary Review Press $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-935480-50-4
A blind sheep, its eyes pecked out by birds, struggles against the cold wind. The sheep will fall, and the birds will devour it. This is life for man and beast in Tierra del Fuego, ``land of fire.'' These stories, well translated from the Spanish, describe the severe beauty and cruelty of southern Chile--cold, inhospitable, full of craggy, treacherous channels--the end of the world. One could call that environment a metaphor for the people of the region, but an abstraction does not aptly describe the brutal conjunction of man and nature in ``The Kanasaka Iceberg,'' where sailors sight an Indian cadaver embedded atop a dangerous iceberg. As in Jack London's stories, the environment forms a crucible in which man's true--or perhaps worst--nature is revealed: two stranded lighthouse keepers fight each other as their provisions run low (``The Hen Who Laid Eggs of Light''); the skipper of a rowboat on a violent sea declines help from a ship, refusing to be listed officially as ``shipwrecked'' (``Gulf of Sorrows''). The collection would be worth reading just for the spectacular scenery from the tip of the world. But Coloane is also a master storyteller, distilling the universal from the extreme. Coloane's other U.S. publication is The Stowaway , a young adult novel. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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