‘Lima, Peru, July 28, 1979’ by Daniel Alarcón

Lima, Peru, July 28, 1979 by Daniel Alarcón, 2004

The magic trick:

Creating a web of foreshadowing and fatalism

This is a complicated bit of storytelling. It moves forward and back at will, never confusing the reader but neither boring the reader with obvious pivots. The tiny nuggets of fatalistic foreshadowing are especially ace.

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

The selection:

Everything was going well until we ran out of black dogs.

Earlier, one of the compañeros directed that all the dogs were to be black, and we were in no position to question these things. An aesthetic decision, not a practical one. Lima has an infinite supply of mutts, but not all of them are black. By two o’clock, we were slopping black paint on beige, brown, and white mutts, all squirming away the last of their breath, fur tinged with red.

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