Alves & Co. and Other Stories

E%C3%A7a de Queiroz. Trans. from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa. Dedalus Press, $12.99 (172p) ISBN 978-1-903517-89-5
Honor and love are the dominant themes in this collection of stories by Eça de Queiroz, the celebrated nineteenth-century Portuguese novelist. The title novella, which also happens to be the most satisfying story, concerns a man cuckolded by his dearest friend. Driven to desperation, he wonders: is revenge worth it? Can he live with this betrayal? Though working within the realist tradition of Flaubert and Tolstoy, writers no less fascinated by the complexities of infidelity, Eça provides an intriguing, surprisingly comic counterpoint to his famous contemporaries' novels. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the six shorter stories rounding out the collection. Falling into two main categories–character sketches and sober parables–, they feature poets and wives undone by unrequited love; seemingly virtuous Franciscans and wet nurses; even an appearance by Jesus himself. These moralistic and slight tales can't help but be overshadowed by the richer characters of "Alves & Co." This collection, while still a helpful introduction to an era in literature little-known among American readers, is ultimately dragged down by its pairing of a charming novella with subpar short stories. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/17/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!