Three Messages and a Warning - By Eduardo Jimenez Mayo Page 0,1

such a radical departure from the fixed adoration of literary mafias as the volume the readers have before them. This compilation of recent short stories of the fantastic includes some of Mexico’s most established writers, spanning distinct generations; however, many of the authors appearing in it are considered emerging (in some cases marginal) voices on the Mexican literary scene. The editors have made a deliberate effort to uncover buried treasures of the fantastic from Mexico’s Galilees and Galileans, places and persons relatively ignored by mainstream media in the Americas.

Regarding the genre of the fantastic, the editors have been careful to select pieces that cover the gamut of possibilities. Ghost stories, supernatural folktales, and extraterrestrial incursions into everyday life contrast with grounded scientific narrations of highly complex mental disorders and diseases that chronicle unusually heightened states of consciousness in which the borders of fantasy and reality reach unprecedented levels of ambiguity. Fixed stereotypes of Mexican identity are mobilized and transcended as the readers encounter the thoroughly cosmopolitan consciousness underlying these works.

The human fixation with disease, death and love constitutes a recurrent theme in this anthology. Jesús Ramírez Bermúdez’s “The Last Witness to Creation,” Horacio Sentíes Madrid’s “The Transformist,” and Ana Clavel’s “Three Messages and a Warning in the Same Email” present cases of delusional individuals who either come to terms with their illness or succumb to it. Leo Mendoza’s “The Pin” and Carmen Rioja’s “The Nahual Offering” provide similar portraits of dementia, while generating waves of social critique: the former of the middle-class work ethic, the latter of exploitation of the indigenous poor.

René Roquet’s “The Return of Night,” Lucía AbdÓ’s “Pachuca Second Street,” Edmée Pardo’s “1965,” and Liliana V. Blum’s “Pink Lemonade” form a quartet of death and resurrection of the apocalyptic variety. An earth devoid of life other than a lost colony of bats possessing obsessive ambitions to reproduce and thrive, the chaotic whirlpool of hyper-urban existence leading cataclysmically to physical and spiritual annihilation, the voluntary departure from the world of the living of two women who place their hopes in an extraterrestrial civilization, and a post-nuclear-holocaust planet in which men will kill for a glass of lemonade comprise the narrative repertory of this quartet.

María Isabel Aguirre’s “Today, You Walk Along a Narrow Path,” Iliana Estañol’s “Waiting,” Claudia Guillén’s “The Drop,” Yussel Dardón’s “A Pile of Bland Desserts,” MÓnica Lavín’s “Trompe-l’œil,” Ana Gloria Álvarez Pedrajo’s “The Mediator,” “Óscar de la Borbolla’s “Wittgenstein’s Umbrella,” and Guillermo Samperio’s “Mr. Strogoff” constitute attempts at capturing human ambivalence in the face of death. Some may have reached the age when death would seem to be a phase of life’s natural course, while the unexpected appearance of the undertaker may surprise others in the flower of their youth. Yet who among us, of any age, would not admit to spiritual perturbation when faced with the ultimate unknown: death, or, if one prefers, eternity? These stories comprise a myriad of ingenious yet vain attempts to assuage such perturbation through frantic imploration, physical comradery, home remedies, culinary enterprises, artistic representation, religious zealotry, philosophical exercises, and violent resistance.

Having arrived, finally, at the subject of love, we discover in Donají Olmedo’s “The Stone,” Hernán Lara Zavala’s “Hunting Iguanas,” Agustín Cadena’s “Murillo Park,” Beatriz Escalante’s “Luck Has Its Limits,” Queta Navagómez’s “Rebellion,” and Amélie Olaiz’s “Amalgam” the most tender and cruelest manifestations of this emotion. Love’s sublime power to transform our perception of reality arises in a truly mystical fashion in the first three stories, while the others emphasize the temporality or outright impossibility of mystical union in daily life. Personification, idealization, hallucination, prestidigitation, imagination, and recreation, respectively, become the literary resources that sustain the plots of these tales.

Although disease, death, and love form the cluster of themes most commonly encountered in these stories, we must not ignore the ultimate fixed idea of the genre of the fantastic as we know it today: that is, the fixation with the meaning and value of writing itself. Bruno Estañol’s story, “The Infamous Juan Manuel,” incarnates this theme in a most spectacular fashion. An aged treasure hunter opts for eternal condemnation over eternal peace upon learning that in hell he will be able to relive forever the contemplation of his belatedly discovered treasure. We would encourage a figurative reading of this story, if it were not for the fact that too many great writers and their works fall into oblivion.

True to the genre of the fantastic, the contemporary Mexican short stories in this anthology attempt the impossible—capturing the extraordinary moment when humanity’s fixed

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