“A Few Words About Short Stories,” Augusto Monterroso

“A Few Words About Short Stories,” Augusto Monterroso

Born in Teguscigalpa, Honduras, Augusto Monterroso (1921- 2003) is mainly known as a Guatemalan writer.  In his early life in Guatemala city, where his family relocated in 1936, Monterroso began to publish his short stories and was one of the founders of El Espectador with several other writers.  Due to his clandestine work against Guatemalan dictator Jorge Ubico, Monterroso was detained and ultimately exiled to Mexico in 1944.  He occupied various ambassadorial posts in several Latin American countries  in the 1940s and 50s before settling in Mexico city for good, where he died in 2003 at the age of 81.



Unas palabras sobre el cuento, A Few Words About Short Stories

A person who likes novels writes novels; a person who likes short stories writes short stories.  Since I’m of the latter persuasion, I write short stories.  But not that many: six in nine years, eight in twelve.  Like that.

One cannot write too many short stories.  There are three, for, or five subjects; some say seven.  Those are the ones that must be worked on.

As for pages, they also have to be a few, because there are few things as easily ruined as a short story.  Ten extra sentences and the story is impoverished; ten fewer and the story becomes and anecdote, and there is nothing more odious than an excessively visible anecdote, written or in conversation.

The truth is that nobody knows how a short story should be.  The writer who knows it is a bad storyteller, and his knowledge becomes obvious from his second story, making everything sound false, and boring, and deceitful.  One must be very wise to resist the temptation of knowledge and confidence.