cover image Hi, This Is Conchita and Other Stories

Hi, This Is Conchita and Other Stories

Santiago Roncagliolo, trans. from the Spanish by Edith Grossman. . Two Lines Press (PGW, dist.), $17.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-931883-22-1

Peruvian author Roncagliolo’s collection contains a dialogue-only novella and three short stories, none of which are especially winning. In “Despoiler,” Carmen is a single woman on the verge of turning 40 and is resigned to her solitary life. When she meets a man while out celebrating her birthday with her co-workers, she’s confronted with new emotions. “Butterflies Fastened with Pins” finds a man “getting used to” his friends taking their own lives. Death, and its impact on the passengers of a bus, is also the theme of the very short “The Passenger Beside You.” “Conchita” is both more accomplished but also more frustrating than the stories. It is made up entirely of phone conversations between Reginaldo Godínez and various people, including Conchita, a phone-sex operator with a sadomasochistic streak. Godínez also speaks repeatedly to a customer service center and to Esmerelda, a woman with whom he was once romantically involved. There’s a lot to like—and laugh at—here, especially riffs on the awfulness of Meg Ryan movies, but the humor is surrounded by so much verbiage that bright moments are few and far between. (Apr. 16)