The Barcelona Review. International Review of Contemporary Fiction

Summer is here in Barcelona, which means long lazy nights with cool breezes, street parties, beach gatherings (last night a Busker Festival), late-night outdoor cafés, the August festival in Gràcia, and mojitos, mojitos, mojitos. . .















. . . a drink that was hardly available when I moved here, but has now left Sangría in the dust in its rise to the world’s most popular, most desirable cocktail.  Thank you Cuba.  (Wiki says it may well be the world’s first cocktail ever.)  Whatever your summer drink of pleasure (do you drink mojitos in winter Argentina?), it will go well with some hot summer fiction to be savored at your leisure.  And to that end, we have a nice offering this issue to titillate your palate...

Some reading to give you pause as well, because not all in the world live such privileged lives as we. Ken Brosky’s story On the Tenth Day, I Kept It Down, follows a middle-aged American man in Darfur in search of someone; and in a clear, straightforward prose, takes us on a tour of the devastation wrought by the Janjaweed militia.  It’s not a pretty tale, but a powerful one, which juxtaposes the burning villages with the Mercedes Benz dealerships and internet cafes in Khartoum. Don’t miss it. 

And to lighten things up, Monday Burning by R.A. Allen is set in a bar and told from the point of view of a liquor salesman who likes to take a sip or two himself. It’s a good voice, familiar, fairly jaded, that nails the bar scene to a T.  And offers up an amusing, bizarre scene that you won’t soon forget.  Think Weiland.

Chris Miller ’sTake Our Kids To Work Day is about just what it says, told with a deadpan wit by a man whose son drops by his office, unaware of the special day (he’s hitting dad up for cash), and throws up such lines as:  "Ennui makes her homelier than necessary."  The ending carries a surprising subtle undercurrent of poignancy that makes for a pitch perfect finish.

And last of all, another fine treat in Glen Pourciau’s Window:  when a drunken couples’ dog rampages the neighbor’s yard setting off a feud, a third neighbor witnesses everything behind his window with a video camera.  Despite the dire consequences, it’s what he can’t witness that haunts us all the more.

In picks from back issues, see Charles D’Ambrosio’s Her Real Name and Donald HaysWhy He Did It —two superbly written  stories that I have used in the classroom.

Our quiz this issue is on U.S. Politics in Fiction—don’t know what ever gave us that idea! but it was fun to rummage through some contemporary political fiction where I found a fine essay on the subject by Christopher Lehmann.  Four correct responses to our quiz last issue, Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian Literature of the 21st Century—Annette Thomas, Eileen Hobson, Colin Admanson, and Nick James. Congrats to you all. Wish we could reward each one with our modest prize of a 30-euro gift certificate from Amazon, but only one winner is possible, so into the hat went the names and our winner is . . . Annette Thomas

In book reviews, we have a look at Russell Banks’ latest, The Reserve, set in an elitist enclave of the Adirondacks in the 1930s; and a debut novel by by Rivka Galchen, Atmospheric Disturbances, that will appeal to fans of Borges and Pynchon.

Local news:  Nada.  Spain goes on holiday for the summer so there isn’t any, except to note that there is an influx of jellyfish in the Mediterranean which puts a damper on swimming.  And for Americans, who lose big-time on the money exchange, the average price for a mojito comes out to $9.33 (6 euros).  La vida es dura.

We’ll be back with our next issue, October 1.   Click here if you’d like to be notified when new issues are online.  And drop us a line with your thoughts.

All the best from Barcelona,

Jill Adams

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