cover image A Hammock Beneath the Mangoes: 2stories from Latin America

A Hammock Beneath the Mangoes: 2stories from Latin America

. Dutton Books, $22.95 (448pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93367-0

Colchie, a translator and literary agent for both Iberian and Ibero-American writers, assembles an outstandingbelow anthology of Latin American short stories, drawing heavily on the familiar sources--Garcia Marquez, Borges, Allende, Fuentes et al. In all, 26 authors (from eight countries) are represented by one story apiece, eight of which appear in English for the first time. Colchie groups them geographically, ``to emphasize three major landscapes: Brazil, the River Plate, and the Caribbean,'' a choice that excludes several prominent writers, most notably Mario Vargas Llosa. The stories themselves are uniformly excellent, demonstrating a wide range of styles, from the modernist conundrums of Julio Cortazar's ``Axolotl'' to the dextrous tour-de-force of Manuel Puig's ``Relative Humidity 95%,'' a canny mix of cinematic style and stream-of-consciousness. Perhaps the most satisfying stories in the volume, however, are by writers less well known in North America. Two Puerto Rican women, Rosario Ferre and Ana Lydia Vega, weigh in with very different feminist tales; Ferre's ``The Gift'' is a moving recollection of coming of age in a convent school, while Vega's ``Story-Bound'' is a smart domestic triangle/quadrangle with a stunning twist. QPB selection. (Nov.)