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Short Story Month, Day 22: Silvina Ocampo


Silvina Ocampo

"The Voice" by Silvina Ocampo, translated by Frances Riddle

I was not expecting to write about this story at all. In fact, I read this completely on a whim, having found it on The Short Story Project's Spanish Tuesdays page after reading another story I may or may not use in the next few days. I saw that it was a three-minute read written by "one of the great Argentine writers of the twentieth century," so I clicked on it, thinking, "Why am I not familiar with this woman?" and "Ooh, flash fiction!" (Turns out, her work wasn't really translated into English until about five years ago.) Now, I'm not only featuring the story but letting it jump the line in front of a few other amazing stories because it is just. So. Good.

Or terrible, actually. It is just so good and terrible.

I don't really want to say too much about this story because I'm afraid of giving things away. I will say, though, that when I was done, I slid my fingers under my glasses, covered my eyes, and laughed. "What did I just read?!" I asked to an empty room. What's great is that there are lots of hints to the ending, but it's still an end nobody will see coming. It's also an uncomfortable, twisted humor that is apparently Ocampo's style, and it's definitely, undeniably humorous, though it might also make me a terrible person for finding it so funny. Reading it a second time, I appreciate just how witty it is, now that I see the intentional and clever ambiguity, but I still feel like I'm going to hell for laughing so hard.

Friends, you'll want to join me there.

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