In the title story of Rudolfo Anaya’s new collection, “The Man Who Could Fly,” Don Volo, the storyteller of the story within a story, proclaims he was there, “at that moment of magic,” when the impossible became possible. The revelation of Don Volo’s identity at once bolsters the belief in the impossible and ushers in the moral of the story: storytelling can clarify the most important human questions; storytelling can possess a moral purpose.
In The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories
In “The Silence of the Llano,” Rafael is an orphan, and is surrounded by a bleak, inscrutable landscape of silence. A young woman, not initially named, seeks him out, and finally delivers him from his oppression. But during childbirth, the woman dies, and Rafael returns to his silence and neglects his new daughter. Soon the man’s self-obsession and self-enervation prompt him to abandon his daughter when she most needs him. Rafael returns, but only when he has forsaken the silence that was so much a part of him.
Again, in “The Road to Platero,” Anaya’s target is the destructiveness of man’s machismo. But this time the story also focuses on a mother’s warped hero-worship of her abusive father, which only encouraged his machismo, and on the mutual manipulation between a mother and a father who both hide a terrible secret from the son. In contrast, the story “Iliana of the Pleasure Dreams” depicts Iliana as the source of dreams and mysteries and a redemptive sexuality, while the man, Onofre, is simple, abrupt, and silent. Between the couple is a chasm, until they find a way to share their dreams.
Other stories delve
into the magical and spiritual world of the Mayas and the Incas.
Two stories focus
on the elements and magic of storytelling itself. Characters plead to be included in the story
of "A Story," as the writer wrestles with characters he can hardly
control. And in "B. Traven is Alive and Well in
Rudolfo Anaya's stories remain essential for readers and writers because they remind us of what we have forsaken in our modern world, what will always be philosophical questions at the heart of our humanity, and why storytelling should have a moral purpose. Not to pontificate. Not for nostalgia. But stories should have a moral purpose to illuminate the magic of life: the eternal links to heritage and history, and the human desire to hope and to create in a world otherwise desolate and silent.
article appeared in the Sunday Books section of the El Paso Times on