Meat by Virgilio Piñera, 1956
The magic trick:
Pushing an idea well beyond the reader’s comfort level
We’re launching another month of Latin American stories, and we begin with what will certainly be one of the most memorable stories you’ll ever read. Not the best, per se, but I guarantee you won’t soon forget it.
It begins with a simple problem – the town is suffering from a meat shortage. One man in town hits upon a unique solution. Most stories would be content to leave things here. The idea – cannibalism with a twist – is enough by itself. But not Piñera. He pushes things well beyond the reader’s comfort level. It goes from funny concept to gross very quickly, and continues on to downright disturbing. And that’s quite a trick on Piñera’s part.
Only Mr. Ansaldo didn’t follow the order of the day. With great quality, he began to sharpen an enormous kitchen knife and then, dropping his pants to his knees, he cut a beautiful fillet from his left buttock. Having cleaned and dressed the fillet with salt and vinegar, he passed it through the broiler and finally fried it in the big pan he used on Sundays for making tortillas.
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