A Dream Come True is an English compilation and translation of short Spanish stories by Juan Carlos Onetti. His work of fiction pertains to the everyday life of a common person. His narrative doesn’t rely on magic or fantasy and isn’t even about exotic settings in Latin America. Instead, his stories revolve around an imaginary town with fictional characters living unrefined lives, marred by corruption, illegal activities, and more.
The imaginary characters in Onetti’s stories may appear unusual to the readers as they are completely estranged from their environment, yet they have to deal with the lack of meaning in their life at every point.
One of the stories from this collection, “Welcome, Bob,” is about a transition of an individual from an optimistic adolescent to a cynical adult who is manifested by two adversaries who share a complex background and happen to be frequent visitors of the same café.
Another story in the book, which also makes the book’s title A Dream Come True, is about a struggling actor trying to survive a slow season at work which agrees with a seemingly disturbed woman who knows what she wants. The mysterious woman in the story pays washed-up actors to duplicate a dream in which they find pleasure. Still, the story comes to an unforeseen closure when the woman dies right when the actors play the theatre impresario to perfection.
That’s how stories revolved in most of Onetti’s work, where everything that makes a living comfortable is lost, God doesn’t exist or doesn’t seem to care, and love is either turned worthless or will soon be meaningless.
However, his stories are not just about rejection and negativity. Instead, the stories revolve around the idea that finding the answers to most life questions lies in taking responsibility for your actions.
Perhaps this broader idea about human emotions combined with extensive experiments in the stories has kept Onetti’s work somewhat deserted compared to other prominent authors of that time, Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel García Márquez.
Juan Carlos Onetti has produced several popular literary pieces, including the fictional novel, A Brief Life and several stories revolving around Santa Maria. In this mythical town, the story’s characters experience an unusual life.
Apart from his creative imagination about the city and the characters, Onetti’s work speaks for its profound use of language. Finding a better literary artisan in the Spanish language is certainly a challenge.
Even though Onetti’s popular fiction has been translated into English, most have lost their true essence due to the language change. Given Onetti’s style, certainly, there would have been challenges with the translation of A Dream Come True; however, with the efforts of Katherine Silver, we can look forward to restoring the content that Onetti originally created in the Spanish language so we can grasp the actual messages in his work.
Only when you delve deep into Onetti’s fiction do you realize it’s not just about absurd imagination. Instead, it’s a true reflection of what was actually happening in the region back in that time amidst the widespread political instability.
Towards the end of his life, Onetti spent several years in isolation. He had to live in an asylum for three months as a punishment for disobeying the dictatorship in Uruguay in 1974, followed by an exile in Madrid, where he spent most of his time in bed. Viewers of Onetti’s interview recording find him as a shy older adult whose sarcasm reflects in his conversations.
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