Jordi Puntí’s This Is Not America: Stories (2019)
This collection caught my eye because I read and enjoyed Lost Luggage (also translated by Julie Wark). The pieces were commissioned for individual publications, but the voice and energy are consistent, along with a wry sort of sadness against a backdrop that might have seemed more playful in the hands of another writer.
For instance, there is a story about a man who dresses as a clown for work and does not own a vehicle so he must rely on hitchhiking to travel to his gigs.
It’s actually a perfect window into the art of storytelling: “The art of hitchhiking only lets you need normal, ordinary folk. Or so they seem. You open the door, get superficially involved in their lives for a while, then you get out of the car, and they forget you and you forget them. That’s the theory, anyway, because reality changes the plan and puts you to the test.”
And it’s playful, is it not? (He could have been a musician – much more common, surely.) But it’s not fun. Because readers learn too much about Gori, who suffers from attacks of loneliness: “infrequent, mostly benign, but they came without warning and swamped him all day long with false nostalgia for the past, springing not from memory but imagination”.
The man who has not spoken to his brother for many years and receives a note requesting a kidney, a detailed account of infidelity on holiday, a couple who alternates kisses with chips, a man who orders a sandwich and a Coke at the Luxembourg railway station and later meets an author named Jordi Puntí (who’s described as being “almost smarmy”.
Contents: Vertical, Blinker, Kidney, Consolation Prize, My Best Friend’s Mother, Seven Days on the Love Boat, Matter, The Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes, Patience