‘Men Animal Vines’ by Silvina Ocampo, translated by Daniel Balderston

If you’re a fan of Borges and Cortázar, reading Ocampo is a must. Clarice Lispector and Leonora Carrington buffs, bow down – Silvina is the queen! Her stories often involve creepy children being tortured or torturing. Dreamlike, nightmarish, hallucinatory, prose poems, just plain weird – all these adjectives are acceptable. My personal favorite from her recently translated collection is “Men Animal Vines,” another appropriately Herzogian piece. A man is the sole survivor of a plane crash and must survive in the jungle as vines threaten to consume everything in reach. And that final sentence! Talk about a twist that makes you look up from the page with a frown on your face and say, … what? But then you start to smile as you say: … Whoa!

in Thus Were Their Faces, NYRB Classics, 2016

‘The House Made of Sugar’ by Silvina Ocampo, translated by Daniel Balderston

“Suspicion kept Cristina from living.” Involvement is a word with a somewhat different meaning in relation to this bleak beauty, in which a man (I think) recalls the story of his true love’s curious attitude to life, the house they buy together, the little lie he tells in order to avoid upsetting her, the consequences of that lie . . . . Luck plays a part in this story. As it does in:

From Thus Were Their Faces, New York Review Books