cover image Open Door: Stories

Open Door: Stories

Luisa Valenzuela. North Point Press, $12.95 (201pp) ISBN 978-0-86547-310-2

This collection gathers stories from Clara and Strange Things Happen Here, as well as 14 others appearing for the first time in English. All 32 pieces glow with Valenzuela's piercing blend of mysticism and reality. Some tales clearly refer to the past political situation in her native Argentina, such as ``The Censors,'' in which Juan obtains a job as a postal censor simply to intercept a letter he has written, but becomes so caught up in the meaningless suppression that he censors his own letter and incriminates himself. Most often, though, Valenzuela strikes a provocative, surreal balance between the political and the spiritual, as in the quietly astonishing ``Strange Things Happen Here'': the penniless Mario and Pedro happily imagine that the abandoned briefcase and jacket they've discovered are filled with money, only to have the windfalls mysteriously transformed into unbearable millstones. Valenzuela also impresses when she abandons the political and creates bittersweet peasant fables, such as the final ``The Minstrels.'' However, her experimental, somewhat vaguethough still well-craftedstories, like ``Cat's Eye,'' are less successful. (June)