The Barcelona Review. International Review of Contemporary Fiction

As we upload Issue 100 I find myself back in Barcelona after being unable to return from the States for nearly a year due to Covid restrictions. I left to empty streets and plazas but returned to throngs of tourists and tour groups crowding the city once again, which is good for business if not so good for those of us living here. Masks are still required in all establishments though not mandatory in the streets. However, due to a spike in the last month, many locals choose to mask up at all times.

This issue is something special – our 100th!  That is a lot of fine writing over the years and all available in our archives. I remember back in 1996, when thinking about starting the review, I asked a friend who did Tarot to tell me what the cards said. He laid them out and the message was: Don’t do it.  I’ve always loved the colorful cards in Tarot, but have never put much faith in it, so here we are.  Michael Garry Smout, who anchors the tech and design of the review, learned his way around an Apple Power Macintosh 7200, which we actually lugged back from London, and he’s been at it ever since, working first from here in Barcelona, then Russia, and now England.

We’re pleased to kick off this issue with Orchard Tender by Pete Duval where we find a twenty-four-year-old boy and a craggy, fifty-something man tending a fruit orchard.  This year will be different, however, as grand changes loom for them both. Told in rich and delicate detail as we move towards an astounding end.

Next up, is Carmen Maria Machado’s Inventory, involving a woman’s sexual chronicle spanning time which takes us into an eerily familiar near future.  Machado’s sharp prose dazzles and will leave you wanting more. 

In Labor Day, Constance Sommer depicts a harassed mother of three, trying to survive Labor Day weekend.  All she wants is to plop down and read People magazine, but that becomes more elusive as the day draws on.

Another look to the future comes in Fran Dorf’s The Dreamkeeper’s Testimony where we are in a full-blown dystopia, but what is of interest here is the narrator’s backstory based on his dream journals.  As past and present blend together, the reader is left to separate dream from reality.

And last up is an arresting bit of flash by Terena Elizabeth Bell where the indignity of visitors in an open house must be endured.

In our picks from back issues we have Volt by Alan Heathcock (issue 67), and Buried in Shit (issue 24) by Cuba’s Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, translated by Natasha Wimmer. Two superb stories.

Our quiz this issue is Contemporary Puerto Rican Writers.  Test your knowledge and you’re in the running to win a 30-euro gift certificate from Amazon. For answers to last issue’s quiz, Contemporary Black LBGTQ Writers, click here.

Our book review this issue is on Stephan Mack Jones’ Dead of Winter, a crime novel. Highly recommended.

Our next issue is due out in November 2021. To be notified when new issues are available, just ‘LIKE’ The Barcelona Review on Facebook (for the Spanish, LIKE Barcelona Review without the THE); or email us to subscribe (gratis, of course), though often our bulk email is blocked from servers so we cannot guarantee a notification.

Jill Adams, editor
Michael Garry Smout, tech and design

email TBR

THAT IMAGE: Discarded before the 1992 Olympics and used as the TBR toilet paper and odd knick-knack holder ever since, this ‘menu del dia’ board gives a small glimpse into pre-tourist, pre-EU Barcelona. The words still visible show that ‘Ensalada’ and ‘Sopa’ were followed by ‘Paella’ and ‘Canalones’ which means there was a main meat course —‘Lomo’ (pork) can be seen —and dessert to come. Wine —often a whole bottle per two people —was free. So, a four-course meal with wine cost 400 pesetas which in 1991 was just over £2.00 (1GBP = 183ish ESP. 1Euro = 163ish ESP – not being precise here so as to keep it simple and not worry about dollars, the euro, date, etc. I will stick to £, but you should get the basic concept!). A 1991 £1.00 is now worth £1.95, which means in 30 years the British pound has not quite doubled in value; however, prices in Barcelona have easily tripled, if not quadrupled, and I bet the waiters pay has, like the pound, also barely doubled in that time. An equivalent meal today would cost around £12.00 if you are lucky as tourism has destroyed this type of eatery but expect to pay a lot more depending on area and don’t expect 4 courses or free wine. For thoughts about those ‘menu del dias’ of yesteryear or updates on a typical menu today, please use our Facebook page. MGS

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