Recommended: Locos, by Felipe Alfau

Locos, by Felipe Alfau, is a wonderful collection of interlocking stories, told by and about a cast of shape-shifting characters who wander in and about each other’s lives like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle which could be put together in endlessly different patterns. All of them are introduced at once in the very beginning when they are pointed out by the narrator as he sits in a cafe in Madrid, but then they each take the stage in their turns and weave odd tales that lead you on as patiently and deliberately as any Scheherezade. Those who are not in the foreground of a particular story are nevertheless lurking in the background, illuminating themselves like occasional fireflies. Some, such as Lunarito, threaten to develop into protagonists but never do. Others, like the great Olozago, seem to be a different character on every other page, as their histories self-modify and stretch out through the years. Some are victims of themselves, like the son of the man who invented fingerprints, or the man who is alive but does not exist. Others are mainly hinted at, like the long-suffering Padre Innocencio. This is a book that, as soon as I finished it, I thought of three of my good friends whom I wanted to foist it upon immediately, telling them that they had to read it now and all at once and that I wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

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