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folklore

Illustration by Abigail Piña Rocha Carlisle

Murmurs on the Plain

Rulfo’s literary reputation rests on just two slim books—the short story collection El Llano en llamas (The Plain in Flames), first published in 1953, and the novel Pedro Páramo, released two years later. Pedro Páramo would arguably go on to become the defining novel of Mexico’s twentieth century, inspiring the writers of Latin America’s “Boom” generation and helping to usher in a new age of literature across the continent.

<em>Binstead's Safari</em>. By Rachel Ingalls. New Directions, 2019. 218p. HB, $15.95.</p>

Feminist Forms

“All your working life,” asks an exasperated wife, “you’ve studied these stories. Why?”

She means the stuff of folklore, her husband’s academic field, in which most narratives take a turn to the surreal. The man replies that such stories present “a true picture of the world,” better than “what we see around us.” Ordinary reality, he argues, “isn’t any place for heroes.” This vexes his wife further. “There are always going to be heroes,” she declares. “As long as there are challenges or dangers or injustices.” Really, isn’t that the whole point of storytelling: the heroes?