cover image Nest in the Bones

Nest in the Bones

Antonio Di Benedetto, trans. from the Spanish by Martina Broner. Archipelago, $18 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-0-914671-72-5

This collection from renowned Argentinean author Di Benedetto (Zama) showcases his short stories’ development from sparse and experimental into melancholic, deeply affecting fables. The earliest works included here center around mesmerizing language and images, such as a dove transforming a horse’s skull into “a box of birdsong,” and that dreamy tone is carried forward into Di Benedetto’s later, more traditional stories. In “Aballay,” a murderer seeks absolution by wandering the arid plains, doing penance by never dismounting from his horse. He survives the harsh elements that leave him “gripped by vague sensations of living in a state of wonder now grown brittle,” but can’t escape the vengeful child of the man he killed. The subjects from the mature stages of Di Benedetto’s career are more familiar, even as his imagination retains its beguiling edge. One such work finds a tourist in Sicily under the influence of a con man who claims to have lost his ear when a childhood friend ate it. In another, a journalist investigates the validity of the “official excuse” for a train’s tardiness: it must go slowly to avoid being derailed by the “limitless rows of famished, ravaging locusts” perched on the tracks. These stories bolster Di Benedetto’s reputation as a visionary talent, and serve as a worthy introduction to one of Latin America’s most influential writers. (May)