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<<Biblioteca Digital del Portal<<Revista Interamericana de Bibliografía (RIB)<<Revista Interamericana de Bibliografía (RIB) 1996, No. 1-4<<Artículo

Colección: Revista Interamericana de Bibliografía (RIB)
Número: 1-4
Título: 1996

“Otras posibilidades”: Metafiction, Parody and other Perversions

In the final section of Casa de geishas, “Otras posibilidades,” Shua uses parody, intertextuality and ironic humor to comment on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the habits, obsessions and vices of contemporary society, to the problems presented by the act of writing itself. This is the longest section of the collection, consisting of 136 texts which treat such diverse subjects as Heaven and Hell, dreams, nightmares and insomnia, ghosts and spirits, childhood, old age, and other matters of life and death. Anything and everything becomes fair game in these texts which, like a three-ring circus act, capture the public’s interest and imagination with the quick stroke of the unexpected, absurd humor and, in the words of Eduardo Gudiño Kieffer, “esos aires surrealistas a veces perversos, a veces bienhechores, siempre renovadores” (“Aire surrealista”). The texts of “Otras posibilidades” reveal truths about the lives of many characters: mothers and daughters, wizards and kings, sultans and czars, cannibals and explorers, angels and demons, and even the Pope himself; while a variety of animals, insects and plants are the target of other short shorts.

Of particular interest to this study are the metafictional texts which place the author and language at the center of the conflict, thus reminding the reader that the creative process itself is the underlying thread which unites the texts of the collection. In the shortest text of the entire collection, “Huyamos,” the author reduces the writer’s tool, the word, to its most basic element, the letter. In this text, the letters unite in solidarity against an enemy that would wipe them off the page; however, the call to retreat comes too late for two unfortunate vowels: “¡Huyamos, los cazadores de letras están aquí!” [sic] (114). In “Cuatro paredes” the paper upon which the author inscribes words and thoughts is a paradoxical “Prison-House of Language” which holds the writer captive, and leaves the reader to wonder, what is reality, the world created within the page or that which exists beyond it:

Siempre encerrada entre estas cuatro paredes, inventándome mundos para no pensar en esta vida plana, unidimensial, limitada por el fatal rectángulo de la hoja. (152)
Shua ridicules the notion of literary genre in a text which is ironically entitled “Respeto por los géneros.” Here the narrator tells the tale of a man who wakes up next to a woman whom he does not recognize. His predicament is then explained according to the tenets of the the literary genre in which his situation is narrated. For example, if the couple were characters in a “thriller,” one would attribute the problem to drugs or alcohol, whereas in a science fiction story, it might be a matter of a parallel universe. After a number of other possibilities are posited, the man himself begins to worry that a fate worse than death awaits him: “Los editores son cada vez más exigentes y el hombre sabe, con cierta desesperación, que si no logra ubicarse rápidamente en un género corre el riesgo de permanecer dolorosa, perpetuamente inédito”. (159)

Two other texts unite the metaphor of writing with the tribulations of a shipwreck. In “Robinson desafortunado,” Shua alludes to Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe as she allows her protagonist to tell his woeful tale. The shipwrecked sailor walks the beach, searching in the sand for any object to help him construct a novel; nevertheless, what he finds is of no use:
Corro hacia la playa. Si las olas hubieran dejado sobre la arena un pequeño barril de pólvora, aunque estuviese mojada, una navaja, algunos clavos, incluso una colección de pipas o unas simples tablas de madera, yo podría utilizar esos objetos para construir una novela. Qué hacer en cambio con estos párrafos mojados, con estas metáforas cubiertas de lapas y mejillones, con estos restos de otro triste naufragio literario. (200)
In “Zafarrancho de naufragio,” passengers and crew rush to the lifeboats and don lifejackets in order to save themselves as the ship goes down. At this point one expects the ship to sink; however, as the author of the text explains, this tale does not follow literary norms:
De acuerdo con las convenciones de la ficción breve, se espera que el simulacro convoque a lo real: ahora es cuando el barco debería naufragar. Sin embargo, sucede lo contrario. El simulacro lo invade todo, se apodera de las acciones, de los deseos, de las caras de la tripulación y del pasaje. El barco entero es ahora un simulacro y también el mar. Incluso yo misma finjo escribir. (224)
In this text nothing is as it seems nor as one would expect. The fateful journey of a ghost ship in an imaginary sea is narrated by a ghost writer who feigns the writing of the passage.