A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Eusebio Ruvalcaba is a Guadalajaran writer with a knack for the taboo and the verboten—the immoral and pestilent. This is not necessarily a noteworthy feat given Guadalajara’s super-violent, über-gorey, and highly-documented drug trade. An alien type of violence seems to pop-off in Guadalajara like termites in triple-digit heat. In June of this year, The Daily Mail U.K. reported that seven severed human heads were discovered about 25 miles from Guadalajara; in 2011, 26 bodies were found in three abandoned cars right outside the Millenium Arches in Guadalajara’s city center. So, to write something that mirrors that life in any sort of literary-key, does not strike me as innovative. Besides, why add any reverb to that incessant noise? Why use that misery as a canvas, of sorts?

Ruvalcaba’s short stories find a way of talking “around” the violence in Guadalajara. For example, “Mil pesos por un insecto/ “A Thousand Pesos for an Insect” concerns the plot of a mama’s boy to buy a poisonous insect from an unsuspecting gardener so that he can kill his mother and inherit the “mansión de dos mil metros cuadrados en Coyoacán” (a 2 thousand square foot mansion in one of sixteen neighborhoods in Mexico’s D.F.). Ruvalcaba grafts us in right at the moment that the gardener meets with the speaker at a park to buy a “viuda negra” (black widow), but Ruvalcaba also gives us revelatory vittles of dialogue and imagery that adumbrate the inner life of the speaker, regardless of how despicable he actually might be. So, when the speaker of “Mil pesos…” castigates his mother for not giving him the money to buy the insect that he is going to use to actually kill her, the irony is not misplaced, “ Los hombres de treinta y cinco anos,’ le dije ‘necesitamos camisas de vestir, no calquier babosada de prenda. Vengan esos mil pesos” (“Thirty-five year old men’ I told her ‘need dress shirts, not just any type of saliva-encrusted rags. Please fork over those thousand pesos, Ma…”).

His narratives are not about narco violence per se; but, they do indirectly address the inheritance of violence Guadalajara, a city of 1.5 million, struggles with as the demand for drugs in the United States remains constant. Ruvalcaba’s fiction examines the inner life of criminal machination, but his descriptive modes and deranged scenarios are reminiscent of Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London or some of Cortazar’s trippy short-stories in Blow Up or Of All the Fires the Fire. Indeed, the short stories collected in Eusebio Ruvalcaba's Spanish-language short-story collection, Pocos son los elegidos perros del mal/ Few are the Elected Dogs of Scourge (Lectorum/Marea Alta, 2012) are rendered with such rancid artistry that they will make you cringe and scrunch your brow with disdain.  This ain’t a book you want to bring up around polite society (“alta suciedad” and so forth), and that is exactly the reason that it must be read and discussed—its merits illuminated or dispelled. Ruvalcaba is not graphic nor sensational; he ordains the parameters, machinates motivations, impels characters, and sits back to transcribe the results in a seemingly fair and transparent manner.

In “Un minuto” (“One Minute”), Ruvalcaba spins us the tale of a stick-up kid that unwittingly mugs his Uncle Enrique with an ice pick, the same lecherous uncle that is the family’s current skeezoid-landlord, “Si era su tío pero su tío politico, no su tío verdadero, carnal, de carne y hueso”. If the speaker lets his Uncle go, his uncle will use this information to extort him, and the only reason the speaker started mugging people was because, “No importaba la forma, pero el tendria que llevar dinero a su casa” (“It didn’t matter how, but he had to bring money home to help out”). The thought of having to be more subservient to Uncle Enrique brings the speaker to murder, “Hundio el picahielo hasta el tope” (“He sank the icepick to the hilt” ).  And, it brings the reader, to the last five minutes of Uncle’s life seen through the lens of Vengeance, Vitriol, and Premeditation.  These stories are neither edited for television nor politically correct; they are not interested in instilling any sort of moral form or mandate. Ruvalcaba’s enanitos narrativos don’t give a shit whether you fed your goldfish, or aspire to be an Ichthyologist—they’re going to give it to you straight, no chaser, no filler, no sweet, or sparing terms, no recondite terminology. Last, I found considerable intersection between Ruvalcaba’s “Un minuto” and Cortazar’s “Casa Tomada,” and Ruvalcaba’s tale holds as many associations to sovereignty and power of U.S. influence in Latin America.

Ruvalcaba’s diminuitive civic parables don’t pull any punches, nor do they aspire to retain an objective, anthropological bent. In this sense, Ruvalcaba’s short-story collection, Pocos son los elegidos perros del mal/ Few are the Elected Dogs of Scourge (Lectorum/Marea Alta, 2012), is reminiscent of William T. Vollman’s novel, Whores for Gloria, because it forces readers to recalibrate their personal buffer to render between Pornography and Fiction, puerile violence and premeditated Fuckery. Park Chan-wook, the South Korean director responsible for Old Boy, Quentin Tarantino, and John Woo all seem like inspiration for Ruvalcaba’s cuentos petardos, or bottle-rocket, short-stories. And, yet, Ruvalcaba evinces an indifference that is exponentially more callous and proud. Eusebio Ruvalcaba is one of  contemporary Mexico's literary stalwarts. Ruvalcaba is best known for his novel, "A Trickle of Blood"/Un hilito de sangre" (1991), which won the premio Agustin Yañez in 1991 and was made into a movie starring Diego Luna; however, he has been transmitting Poetry since 1977's self-published "Beast Atmosphere/ Atmósfera de fieras", and his repertoire includes turns as a proficient essayist, dramaturgist, and journalist, pedagogically aligned with the Universidad Autonoma University in Guadalajara.

Conservative readers might even feel the urge to browbeat themselves with their mirkins, or recoil at the abject tittilations, moral circumspections, and cul-de-sac circumstances Ruvalcaba utilizes to pit and rouse narrators. Ruvalcaba's short stories teeter on the hairline difference between the unnameable and the willfully ignored. His short stories don't dote on the subject of fetish, they present the things themselves—Ruvalcaba’s stories perhaps are totems of a sort—describes them and yet destroys them. There were several times while reading these tiny tales of great, irrefutable ascos that I was tittilated to the point of Pornography; these tales seem Latin American in character, but utterly French in delivery and the power to repell. Like Gunther Grass' in "The Tin Drum," Ruvalcaba makes you question the sanity of the speaker, which is closely related to the sanity of the lector, because who listens to crazy people except other crazy people? In reading the programmatic notes and succinct diatribes of the malcontent and impotent, we are able to construct a graphic, structured snapshot of what life is like in the depths of that bone-crushing, Riisian poverty.

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