What’s on Our Nightstands: Ricardo Santana Ortiz’s “Cuentos de vellonera”

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Well, it’s on my virtual nightstand, via iPad . . . and I have just begun to read “La cadena del Cano Belleza,” a beautifully written story evoking an urban world of bygone days in Puerto Rico’s soft underbelly, and raises questions on race, class and gender by weaving together darkness and light, smoke and music, with an edge of foreboding and suppressed violence. Ricardo Santana Ortiz’s Cuentos de vellonera is a collection of short stories published by Erizo Editorial in 2012. It was presented (by author Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro and actor Gil René) last September at Casa de los Contrafuertes in Old San Juan.

About Cuentos de vellonera, Mayra Santos Febres writes:

When Truman Capote wrote In Cold Blood and Raymond Chandler coined the term “dirty realism,” they tried to put a spin on literature so that it would be much closer to reality. They took on this task knowing that they were taking a risk, and could end up paying for it dearly, by revealing their vulnerabilities and obsessions as authors that were present in their texts, without seeking shelter under the performative guise of fiction. Thus, they were constructing a “hyperreal” reality by offering accounts that contained the presence of fiction as well as the dreadful aspects of life.

The “hyperreal” and stark reality of the tales of Ricardo Santana Ortiz makes us think of the challenges already undergone by dirty realism and pioneering narrative based on the “new journalism” of Truman Capote. They also bring to mind the difficult boundaries between anecdote and fiction, life and literature, and gender and performance. Beautifully written, deliriously poignant, these stories point to the difficult art of self-fiction and its practice in Puerto Rico, raising the bar of our [the readers’] expectations. This is a beautiful text that goes beyond the short story that goes beyond the urban chronicle, surpasses biography, and makes the readers laugh and cry; that is, those brave readers that dare keep their eyes open to face the reality (or hyperreality) that dwells inside them and in which we all live.

For more information, see http://www.amazon.com/Cuentos-vellonera-Spanish-Edition-ebook/dp/B00A7FPXIC#_

For an additional review (in Spanish), see http://cyborgyoryie.net/My_Blog/2013/01/12/cuentos-de-vellonera-resena-de-libro/

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