For a narrator to be in a state of grace as such, Sherezade must feel, that is, he must write, figuratively, under the threat of a sharp cutlass on his neck. You have to be aware that only your storytelling skills are going to be able to save you from that insatiable edge, and that you must thread each story in the needle of genius to get out of the trance gracefully. That is what I am sure has happened to Felipe Benítez Reyes (Rota, Cádiz, 1960) at the different moments in which he has devised, over the last twenty years, the inventions gathered in By feigned regions (1998 -2018), a masterful collection of short stories.
Felipe has felt Sherezade and has decided to do his best to entertain the caterva of sultans, increasingly scarce, who populate the amphitheater on whose stage he stands, dictating stories characterized by stylistic brilliance, unfathomable amenity and a unrepeatable and fantastic surprise management. Literary virtues that are the mark of the Benítez Reyes house since it began publishing, back in the eighties of the last century. First, they were poetry books; then novels and stories; and even some ineffable encyclopedic record, ordered alphabetically, that responded to the pilgrim title of
The honorary intruder.
They are stories characterized by stylistic brilliance and unfathomable amenity
This new foray by Benítez Reyes into the field of the story, for me more difficult for the narrator to handle than the novel itself. Borges was very clear about this when the short story prevailed over any other narrative manifestation. The story must solve its plot in a few pages, which, in turn, must act as a prelude to a final outburst that cannot occur before or after a D hour marked indelibly by the author in his creative office.
The highly skilled Sherezade knew a lot about that. For something he kept his head on his shoulders. Well, in this case, Felipe addresses the short story in a collection that contains, as the cover of the book says, four series of inventions: «Pompas fantásticas» (series subtitled with the label «Laboratory of narrative procedures»), «Las fictions in suspense “(defined by the author as” set of miniatures that includes an assortment of exemplary dreams “),” Tautological formulations “(consisting of 21 collages by Benítez Reyes himself, who are given a narrative tour in the form of textual illustrations to each of the images, which have nothing to envy to those of great collagists very admired by me, such as Max Ernst, Chumy Chumez or the poet from Cuenca José Luis Jover) and “Destino y pantomima” (fourth and last series, subtitled “Sample of urban miracles that have been recorded in the Provincial Historical Archive of Cádiz”).
I have stopped at the internal economy of the book, because the mere reproduction of the epigraphs of its quadripartite structure already places us in a territory of unusual genius and, above all, fun (literature is, also and above all, fun, although there are so many writers, as it is said now, that they insist on the opposite). Please read it. Do not miss it.
“By mock regions.” Felipe Benítez Reyes
Narrative. Renaissance, 2020. 168 pages. 16.90 euros.