After reading a two-hundred-and-sixty-or-so-word review, that is, Josh Davis’s review of Robert Lopez’s Asunder, a review which amounts to little more than a trifle, little more than a throwaway, a throw-up (in graffitists’ parlance), an, at best, anemic piece of slapdash flash nonfiction; you might say, forgivingly, “Oh, given the constraints, what else can you expect?” Well, one answer is the work of Augusto Monterroso, who was a master of the short form, and who could, in a single sentence, suggest a whole world. Take for instance, “El Dinosaurio” (“The Dinosaur”), published in Monterroso’s Obras completas (Y otros cuentos, trans. Complete Works and Other Stories). The story, in its entirety, reads:
Cuando despertó, el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí.
(“When [s]he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.”)
Within this single sentence, Monterroso creates, in my mind, a scene of incredible tension, where the person discovers that the creature he or she had thought was a dream or nightmare was actually not a dream or nightmare. Here’s another way of looking at it: Dinosaurs might be part of this person’s everyday reality and is simply recognizing that the dangerous, friendly, or wounded dinosaur is still in the vicinity. Yes, there are many possible interpretations of this sentence, a sentence that gives lie to the idea that brevity is the antithesis of complexity, that it cannot, in a nod to Whitman, also be large and contain multitudes.