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June 2006

Beyond Urban Legends: Contemporary Fabulism


Some may consign fables and folklore to ages past, but these versatile forms still have magical attraction for great writers around the world. Carmen Boullosa portrays a masterly Spanish artist who conjures the world with his brush in Lepanto's Other Hand. In Costa Rican Jacques Sagot's "Enigma of Ursa Major," an astronomer trains his lens on the dazzling heart of reality. Bitite Vinklers's translations of Latvian folksongs make maps of the heavens. Pierre Michon's "Sorrow of Columbkill" converts a warrior to a monk while his "The Madness of Suibhne" transforms a madman to a beast of prey. The underwater realm of Francisco Mendez's "Water Cathedral" becomes a metaphysical temple where children are baptized into wonder and death. And Luminita Cioaba's two cautionary tales, "Queen of the Night and Stone Flower" and "Birch Grove" impart traditional Roma knowledge. And if your taste in fables runs more toward sports legends, join us as we tune in to the World Cup with Alvaro Enrigue's "Readymade."

from “Lepanto’s Other Hand”

The story of the Juan Latino's portraitist, Esteban Luz, who enters this story when Don Juan of Austria visits Granada during the Alpujarras War (1568-70), otherwise known as the Civil

The Enigma of Ursa Major

Poetry peers over the shoulders of science. --Antonio Machado The astronomer of that kingdom had been honored with the difficult charge of figuring out the meaning of Ursa Major. The

The Sorrow of Columbkill

Adomnan writes that Saint Columba of Iona, still known as Columbkill, Columbkill the Wolf, of the tribe of the O'Neill of the North through his grandfather, Niall of the Nine Hostages,

I Found a White Bean

I found a white bean: where did I plant it? In the middle of a garden on a white sandy hill. Strong and tall, the beanstalk grew all the way to the sky; up the stalk, branch by branch, I

I Had a Brindled Cow

I had a brindled cow, sheltered in the byre. What became of the brindled cow? I traded her for money. What became of the money? The river swept it away. What became of the river? Black bulls

The Madness of Suibhne

In the Annals of the Four Masters it is told how Suibhne, king of Kildare, had a taste for the things of this world. He was a simple man. His happiness and pleasures were simple. He was

The Water Cathedral

On sunny mornings the walls are white wine, the columns are ginger ale, the towers are immense bottles of beer, the high steeples drip amber. Down in the naves you feel the freshness of

Queen of the Night and Stone Flower

On the souls of those who live life free under the skies—with the blades of grass, at the edge of the forest, on hills bedizened with bright flowers of the field—it is written that

The Birch Grove

When the winds sweep away winter's dreaming, March dresses up in flowers and grass and, on long wings, ushers in the spring. Then, without ever knowing why, trees raise their naked


For Juan Carlos Hidalgo and Carlos Calderón 1. Alfonso "the Fool" Madrigal played his first match in Pachuca during the summer of 1966. He went in as a substitute during the second


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