José Donoso (doh-NOH-soh) was a superb storyteller, and his first literary efforts were in the area of the short story (curiously, his first stories were written in English and published in the Princeton University literary review MSS). His collections of stories include Veraneo, y otros cuentos (1955; summer vacation, and other stories); Dos cuentos (1956; two stories); El Charlestón (1960; abridged as Cuentos, 1971; Charleston, and Other Stories, 1977); and Los mejores cuentos de José Donoso (1965; the best stories of José Donoso). Little if any significant thematic or technical distinction can be drawn between Donoso’s novels and shorter fiction, other than those imposed by the limits of the genres themselves. Regardless of length, all are superb blends of sociological observation and psychological analysis, in which realism never quite manages to eliminate fantasy, where madness, the supernatural, and the unknown hover just beyond the bounds of consciousness and reason.
Donoso also wrote essays of literary criticism and attracted attention with Historia personal del “boom” (1972; The Boom in Spanish American Literature: A Personal History, 1977). His Poemas de un novelista (1981) is a collection of thirty poems with a twelve-page authorial introduction explaining the personal circumstances that occasioned the verse.