the short story project

An Imperfect Day

Ann Morgan On:

An Imperfect Day by Giovanna Rivero

I heard about Giovanna Rivero’s work through a recommendation from novelist Edmundo Paz Soldán, who suggested I make her collection Sangre Dulce my Bolivian choice for my year of reading the world project, in which I read one book from every country in one year. One of the things I admire about this story is how its power comes from what Rivero leaves unwritten. Instead of revealing the key to Marcelino’s suffering all at once, Rivero sets the text swirling with details, which circle faster and faster, like water spiraling round a plughole, until at last the story disappears into its inevitable conclusion, which happens just after the last line. The writing is spare and muscular, with not a word wasted. Like the children in the story, we are compelled to watch helplessly as the tragedy unfolds. It only takes Rivero three pages to create a world and tear it apart.