Adam Blumenthal On:
Masculinity by Antonio Ortuño
A young journalist, stubborn and burned-out, a husband and father, gets himself into a jam through a series of foolish acts; “Masculinity” is a story about a man who “had always found the night shift humiliating” and still carries them on in order to bring home the bacon to his family, but by virtue of his masculinity, he is capable of doing everything he possibly can to ensure that the bacon never gets home.
“You’re a complete and utter fool, young man,”says the taxi driver to the narrator after he gets him out of yet another bind. And indeed, in this funny and ironic story it seems that masculinity is the total of all stupid acts: power plays, childish competitiveness, recklessness, lack of awareness. All the characters in Antonio Ortuño’s stories are exposed to harsh criticism, including those who are identified with the author’s positions. And not only the characters, but the reader as well. Every time I finish reading Ortuño’s prose I feel a little bit more stupid, as if my world-view has been pounded, time and again, with a wrench; one of the qualities that makes Ortuño’s literature great is that the reader never gets to come out of it in one piece. “Masculinity” is just a small taste of this pleasant experience. If you really want to party, you should read his new novel, “Méjico,” with a J.