The Listen Here! Short Story Reading Series rolls into its 7th week with readings at Bru Cafe, 141 Orange, Street, this Tuesday, April 20, at 7 p.m. Our Theme? “L’Etranger”
Our Stories? Isidoro Blaisten’s “Uncle Facundo” and John Cheever’s “The Swimmer”
Why these? Let’s start with a more important question. Who the hell is Isidoro Blaisten?! According to Wikipedia, not much. Just look at the article on him. He was from Argentina. He wrote stories, essays, novels, and poetry. We discovered him in a lovely little book by editor extraordinaire Alberto Manguel, who included Blaisten’s "Uncle Facundo" in his edited collection Dark Arrows: Chronicles of Revenge. Strangely enough, most of the stories collected ended up weak candidates for Listen Here (although there is a whopper of a tale in William Trevor’s “Torridge”), but Blaisten’s stood out not only for its darkly comic sensibility but for its thematic depth (most revenge tales tend to be slim pickings in the deep statement department) and originality in literary style and narrative mode (think magic realism). If his other tales are as good as this, Blaisten deserves better in the United States.
John Cheever always speaks for himself. Perhaps one of the best short story writers in American letters—his prose is crystalline, his pacing is excellent, his diction is aptly nuanced, and his tales are often refreshingly original and insightful. "The Swimmer" is perhaps best known for the movie that came of it, with Burt Lancaster in the starring role and cameos by Kim Hunter and Joan Rivers! Like “The Enormous Radio,” it stays well within in Cheever’s comfort zone as criticism of America classism and serves as a fitting nod to the encroachment of literary surrealism in American writing.