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02 September 2005

The Bride from Odessa

By Edgardo Cozarinsky, and translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor

This collection of short stories was, at best, a lack-luster collection of displaced immigrant experiences. I suffered from continuous national vertigo as these characters headed to Cozarinsky's native Argentina rather than the United States - because, you know, the USA is the only place to which decent people would want to immigrate. At least, that's our national mythology. It was strange to my thinking that Germans, Russians, Portuguese, and Jews of all sorts would travel to a new land and divest themselves of their "old country" ways - not to assimilate into the immigrant burroughs of American cities but to the Spanish new world of Argentina.

But that's where my fascination with this collection ends. Cozarinsky reminds me of why I generally shy away from works produced by contemporary male authors. Crude metaphors and sexual references are scattered through his stories and distracted from any genuine sense of emotion or intrigue. And as the wife of an Englishman, I was conscious of the tense, sometimes nasty anti-British sentiment expressed by Cozarinsky's characters.

These issues aside, the stories were just...dull. I kept reading primarily because the stories were short and fairly mindless - a welcome change of reading pace from the six-week Faulkner stint I just came off of.

passementerie, dipsomaniac, puerperal, jejune, neurasthenia, iconostasis, pince-nez, atavistic, majolica, palimpsest, atelier, recherché, and heteronym (I always wondered if these words had a proper name)

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