‘The Doll Queen’ by Carlos Fuentes

The Doll Queen by Carlos Fuentes, 1964

The magic trick:

Building the story as a quest for answers but never delivering any neat conclusions

I love stories like this. It pushes you along wanting answers. It’s not detective fiction. There’s no murder mystery here. But there’s definitely unanswered questions that our narrator is investigating. So there’s inherent suspense in that. We read on wanting to know.

As the plot develops, we do get some answers. However, they are the kinds of answers that only spawn more questions. In short, you’re not going to finish the story with any sense of definitive conclusion or resolution.

But that, I would argue, is perfection. You have a story that is a real page-turner as you seek the answers. And when you get the answers, they open up things up for interpretation with a variety of themes and ideas. It’s a perfect combination.

And that’s quite a trick on Fuentes’s part.

The selection:

I press the bell and wait. I ring again. Here is another contingency: no one is home. And will I feel the need to look again for my childhood friend? No. Because it will not happen a second time that I open a book from my adolescence and find Amilamia’s card. I’ll return to my routine, I’ll forget the moment whose importance lay in its fleeting surprise.

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