My Documents by Alejandro Zambra

Zambra book cover

What drew me to My Documents (McSweeney's, 2015) was the cover art: a boy climbing among file cabinets, keyboard, wires, and computer monitors. So appropriate for the title! I wanted to try out a newer short story collection by an author I've never read. What I have gained is a sudden appreciation for Alejandro Zambra, a Chilean writer whose stories blend whimsy, dark humor, and general strangeness against the backdrop of Chile's recent history. Fans of Junot Diaz (author of The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her) will definitely enjoy this book - I found they had a similar, honest and to-the-point writing style. Details of what it was like to live under Pinochet's dictatorship are threaded through the stories. Family, Catholicism, and various types of vice are frequently visited topics in the stories. My favorite was "True or False," a story about a father and son as they grapple over what to do about an unwanted litter of kittens. The collection was a quick and engaging read, and has me wanting to check out Zambra's earlier stuff, like Ways of Going Home, his novel that was released in the U.S. in 2013.

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