Lima: Quarks, Ediciones Digitales. 2021. 23 pages.
Los Jiménez by Alberto Sánchez Arguello is a short novel that draws readers in through its brief but detailed moments with characters who transcend from one story to another. The characters alternate through mutated conditions. They exist through a channel of the impossible. Nothing concludes, and nothing is definite; the characters continue through the lives of others. The main characters in Los Jiménez are Ernesto, Sofia, Ruth, and Miguel—characters who find themselves on an impossible path. This impossible path marks the character’s actions with contrasts and strange situations. Throughout the story, there is a looming desire for constant discovery, a discovery that comes from the outside and inside of oneself. Everything is a start, and everything is an end. That is how strange these stories are. Each story’s narration brings every character together with every other character, and with the reader. A sign or gesture tells a story to be recognized within the transposition of events, however imperceptible it may be. The word is a sign that marks the encounter. Powerful narration is a strength of the author, Sánchez Argüello. The voice that talks about itself makes one understand, like seeing oneself in a mirror and conversing with the person there, conversing with oneself. There is a sort of elocution from the inner world of fiction, with a resolution depending on one’s say. An opportunity to talk with oneself, think to oneself, and exclaim to oneself with the self-enlightenment of midday cloud. Ultimately, the characters refract in their thoughts, perhaps in isolation. Los Jiménez is one story contained in and fractionated into other micro-stories. Fourteen stories, to be exact.
These stories are thought and told through actions, as in the case of the verbs listed here: to play, to say, to read, to dream, to sleep, etc. It is a state beyond the reach of the pre-established. The story of Ernesto ends with an ellipsis, which indicates that there will be something to say after his lingering ending. What is suggested counts, and much of the story arrives in a rush. It prepares the readers so that they may pursue the truth with Ernesto and the rest of the characters. The characters have their own identities and stories. They teleport through each other’s universe or story, like a person stepping from one building to another. The plot of the Los Jiménez is just as strange as the channels that teleport the characters. The physical world of each character decomposes in the fragmentation of thought. In other words, the characters’ thought prolongs their life in a non-space that is constantly redefined.
All the stories are told in the first person, so the characters narrate their own stories. In a few stories, the reader sees a possible connection to another story. In the story “Ernesto,” there is a sort of dream within a dream. The story “Sofia” mentions her brother, who we believe is Ernesto. In the story “Ruth,” the character encounters an infinite dream with a strange and forceful closure; the story also mentions Ernesto, Sofia, and Miguel. In the following story, “Miguel,” who feels elephant steps or slithering whales, mentions Ruth. Moreover, a mirror exists. Miguel travels through the mirror to accompany his wife and remains dwelling among the glass fragments. In the story “Los vecinos,” an unnamed woman speaks and tells the readers about “the boy who activated the machine that destroyed the world.” The woman also believes that the adjacent residence continuously changes form. Furthermore, in the story “Portales,” there exists a voice that has a tiny door in its chest, and it speaks of a house where many doors are born. These doors are only born at night. In the story “Pérdidas,” the first-person voice tells of the existence of another voice in the story, and dares to question the author H.P. Lovecraft. The story “Dejarse llevar” mentions Miguel. The reader realizes that in “Cuando se infecta la realidad,” there is a potential theory by H.P. Lovecraft, appearing with his cosmic horror accompanied by an eristic dialectic. Correspondingly, the story “La envidia de los otros” revolves around the absurdity of living through the end of the world for a long time. The story “El soñador” returns to the presence of a mirror, but on this occasion, it is broken. This dreamer speaks of a dream inside a dream. Later, in the story, “Hasta que la muerte los separe,” drops rise but do not fall. In the story “La conversación de la materia,” mirrors burst again to love in silence. Finally, the story “Del otro lado” tells of a dream where loved ones disappear.
In Los Jiménez, the fragmented does not separate. Rather, it unites the stories, and the reader is carried away by these encounters. One cannot pull oneself away from these unlikely stories. As we stated at the beginning, this is a read that casts a sidelong glance at lives we scarcely get to taste.