cover image Vampire in Love

Vampire in Love

Enrique Vila-Matas, trans. from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa. New Directions, $16.95 trade paper (282p) ISBN 978-0-8112-2346-1

Nearly five decades into his career, Spanish author Vila-Matas’s (Bartleby & Co.) wonderful short fiction is collected for the first time in English, with 19 career-spanning tales expertly translated by Costa. These stories swerve in unexpected directions. “Torre Del Mirador” unfolds when a phone call from a desperate stranger leads the call’s recipient to secretly uncover the stranger’s past. “In Search of the Electrifying Double Act” concerns a once-famous actor, now overweight and unemployed, looking for a thin partner to join him in an Abbott-and-Costello-type undertaking, only to accidentally find himself dealing with a dangerous secret society when he approaches the wrong man. “They Say I Should Say Who I Am” begins as a man tries to introduce himself to an unknown audience, and deviates into a funny and detailed story concerning the man and the moment he caused a famous painter to go mad. “An Idle Soul” seems to be a simple morning conversation between a husband and wife until the narrator reveals itself to be the mosquito netting covering the couple’s bed. Vila-Matas fills his fiction with forlorn characters—the title story, for example, follows a depressed, hunchbacked vampire—yet never have so many stories about distressed personalities been so incredibly amusing. (Sept.)