Milieu of Uruguay and Argentina. (Is that even grammatically correct??)

            This week we were to have read Borges, Arlt, and Hernández. However I am only going to talk about some of the stories we read for this section of arts one.

            Cooked Cat.
            Cooked Cat by Arlt is the first story I read. So please bear with me as I slog through my memory to create my thoughts on it. It is an interesting story about this horrendous family this guy stays with. It was strange because it was more a commentary on how cruel people, even towards their own family members could be. He didn’t really relate his own stories and interactions with them, but then again I guess he kind of did. With the part about hiding in the pharmacy with the relative who enjoyed counting the money in his face as if to say “I might have less money than yesterday, but I still have more than you.” The end, where they talk about the aunt. It is amazing. She tricks the cat and boils it alive for eating her chicken. Suffice to say that she would be in favor of the ‘eye for an eye.’ Except, more so for those who do wrong by her. I thought this story felt like it was lost in itself, I guess you could call it a window into this family, but the narrator (despite knowing of this) stays with them and continues to live with them. You could say that he is just surviving, but he could have tried to get away. I don’t know. Maybe I don’t find sympathy for people who keep themselves in unfavorable situations on their own will. I mean, if the family made him stay to pay off a debt or something (is that why he hangs out with them?) that is a whole other story. Because they could track him down. But if he is just bunking with them, and they let him stay for free… I’m not sure. Maybe he could find a nicer family. Or maybe that is the point. Everyone is cruel? I don’t know. I just couldn’t imagine reading the non-translated version. Especially since it is not readable and grammatically incorrect. I already have trouble with the works that have proper grammer and hidden messages, what makes abstract any easier? Which is why I was pretty glad it wasn’t abstract.

            Man on Pink Corner.

            This story was an interesting one. It kinda reminded me of the old west and in particular the book All the Pretty Horses, which follow the adventures of two boys travelling down into South America to ride on the cowboy culture that is fading in America. These two boys, here, met with more violence and other themes I seem to am forgetting. All in all, the fight scene really reminded me of this book. Also Man on Pink Corner, was a good read and, in my humble opinion, easier to follow than some of Borges other works. I particularly thought the cruelty at the end, where like vultures, many of the men pray on this once predator. The turn of tables, where even one of the most menacing guy walks away, has his body discarded, picked at, and disrespected.

            The Circular Ruins.

            Since I’ve used up many words, and have sat here for an hour writing this. Yes, I am a slow typer. 37 words a second when I am copying. I’ll make this one short and sweet. Liked this one a lot. Has a Frankenstein meets Jekyll meets Inception meets sorcery and fatherhood kinda feel/vibe. The ending was predictable. But, what can you say? It was interesting. And I like magic. And I really liked the idea of dreaming up an existence. Matrix style.


            Well that’ll be my blog post of the week. I was initially hesistant (and resistant in all honesty) to the idea of reading these short stories, but I am glad to be exposed to this genre from another country. Although Raymond Carver is still, and probably, won’t come out from the hole I’ve buried his stuff in for a while longer. But that may be more the fact I didn’t enjoy… nevermind. Happy readings. Can’t wait to finish our seminars, I’d like to know more about Cooked Cat. 

“The Cooked Cat”

Roberto ArltI recently translated one of the Argentine writer Roberto Arlt’s very first short stories: “El gato cocido,” from 1926.  Arlt is hardly known outside of Latin America–indeed, outside of Argentina–and little of his work is translated.  But it’s worth a read, not least (as critic Ricardo Piglia has argued) as the messy face of early twentieth-century modernization, as opposed to Borges’s splendid but often icy lucidity.

Precisely because of its messiness, its localism, its use of slang and (frankly) at times its sheer ungrammaticality, Arlt’s writing is a challenge to translate. Any suggestions for improvements or changes would be most appreciated.

Here’s how it starts:

“I remember.

“Old Pepa Mondelli lived in Las Perdices. She was an aunt of my in-laws, who were the children of Alfonso Mondelli, the terrifying Don Alfonso, who used to beat his wife, María Palombi, in the back office of his General Store business. He exploded, there’s no other way to put it, one night in an attic of the big house jam-packed with merchandise, while in Italy Mrs Palombi spent, on the gum-diggers of Terra Bossa, the money that Don Alfonso was sending to support his children’s schooling.

“Now the seven Mondellis were dark, egotistical, and cruel as death. It was said that one of them once, in front of the train station, used his whip handle to beat out the eyes of a horse that couldn’t pull an over-laden cart out from a pothole.

Thanks to María Palombi, passion raced in their blood, combined with the nerve to stop short suddenly, making their fury at the moment of danger all the more calculating. This they showed later on.”

Read more… (.pdf file)