Style and Technique

Carles Fuentes is a master storyteller, for he has a remarkable ability to create suspense, surprise, and interest as he leads the reader from beginning to end of his tales. Often filmlike in technique, Fuentes’s stories abound in direct discourse and visual images. Particularly effective uses of the script mode, for example, are the opening monologue, which draws the reader into the story; the intercalated speech of Elena and Dona Elena among the thoughts of Victor, foreshadowing other parallels between them; the fragments of conversation and the alternating voices, which vary the pace of the text; and the use of highly character-specific comments, which reinforce, animate, and instantly re-create a given character. Moreover, the numerous visual descriptions seem to function like the lens of a camera, complementing the audio and focusing on significant details that lend to the accomplished creation of character, or perhaps contribute to advancing the plot or developing the theme.

Fuentes’s well-known proclivity toward rhetorical ornamentation surfaces only briefly in “The Two Elenas.” One passage illustrating this tendency is the scene that describes lovemaking in terms of saxophone music and seems to function only as a tenuous link between the night in bed and the conversation at the dinner table. Many readers will find such passages unnecessary, a distraction from the story’s authentic dialogue, credible characters, and captivating plot, but others will revel in Fuentes’s baroque stylization.