Original language: Español
Year of publication: 2023
Valuation: Between recommendable and okay
Cadillac Ranchby Antonio Tocornal, He gives us fifteen fantastic stories. In them, insects with the faces of acquaintances, family and friends crash against the windshield of a car; a divorcee’s tiny apartment is constantly expanding; a retired gardener accompanies his own withering with that of more than two hundred plants; a corrupt banker loses the will to abandon his luxury car; an artist achieves fame thanks to a repetitive series of women with three eyes that he hates painting; an office worker hears someone asking for help every time he crosses a park; a town sprouts in the palm of a hand; a hardware representative becomes entangled in the assassination of a foreign country; a writer wants to replicate the placid death of his cat at the hands of a veterinarian; For generations, a family has had a room that cannot be entered; the construction of a saltwater pool turns its owner into a castaway; A girl’s spirit is trapped in a carnival ride; a mother-daughter split has horrible implications; a man dies in a miserable country during a business trip; Tocornal himself devises a method for the flies to write for him.
As you may have guessed, in the stories of Cadillac Ranch, narrated in the first person, there is a protagonist who experiences an irruption of the wonderful, the unusual or the absurd in his life. Perhaps the premises of these stories are not expressed as much as they could be, nor are the elements they consider developed satisfactorily; Likewise, its work may pale when compared to that of other similar texts from the pen of, for example, Borges or Cortázar. Be that as it may, Tocornal’s stories have a more than correct finish, they are moderately original and have their own authorial voice.
My favorites are:
- “In the parenthesis of the world”, “Perhaps a home” and “Help me get out” for its simple but effective future.
- “Los cacharritos” and “Ya no hay luciérnagas” for their well-communicated twists.
- “Cundi Macundi” for its hallucinatory mix of dirty realism and dreamlike atmosphere.
- “Literary blacks” for its nice metaliterarity and the packaging it gives to Tocornal’s work.
On the other hand:
- The story that gives its title to the set tries to cover too much and in the end fails to provide depth to any of its many ingredients.
- “Hanami (Death is Golden Yellow)” and “Closed Room” have a suggestive abstract vocation, but their message and plot end up frustratingly flat.
- “Face of a Woman with Three Eyes”, “A Small and Picturesque Town” and “The Unusual” are excessively linear in their approach, even though they had potential.
- “The Mission” fulfills itself as the unpretentious prank that it is, but I would have preferred it to get a little out of hand.
In short: I recommend Cadillac Ranch, despite its limitations, because gems like “There are no more fireflies” will delight lovers of the fantasy genre. Although Tocornal falls short when compared to other literary titans, he manages to put together a series of stories that at best are quite accomplished and, at worst, entertain. Furthermore, their predominant tone is existentialist and distressing, although never suffocating thanks to the use of a sense of humor that leans towards the tragicomic, caustic and even eschatological, so reading it amuses, astonishes and refreshes.