(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Lyrical reveries, cryptic anecdotes, extended images, narrative impressions, usually only a couple of pages long, most of the sixty-one prose pieces in Antonio Lopez Ortega’s MOONLIT are what are often called “sudden fictions,” “flash fictions,” or “short-shorts.”

Typical is “Nuptials,” which, in two laconic pages, tells of a woman being kidnapped by white slave traders while on her honeymoon in Paris. A year later, when she has still not been found, in a Keatsean image of the “still-unravished bride,” the husband nourishes her memory and decries the “false destiny of that insatiable body.” “The Refrigerator” tells of a group of young people who, on arriving at a beach house for a holiday, find the refrigerator a “gothic cavern,” a “sewer of putrid waters” because of a power failure. Suggesting the cultural squeamishness of the privileged educated class, they send for a Spanish servant at great expense to come out by express taxi to clean it.

Short prose poems, the stories are delicate evocations of significant human hopes, fears, desires, anxieties, and dreams. A young woman remembers the last time she saw her father when she was four and her mother used her as a shield to keep him from beating her. She wants her father to know that if he left because of her once being used as her mother’s shield, he can come back and also beat her.

If one reads them carefully, as a poem, and not hurriedly, as a novel, these are deceptively simple stories that resonate with significant meaning.