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Miscellaneous Works by Vicente Leñero
The life that goes away (literal English translation of title)
9681905830 / 9789681905835
|User Summary:||A young reporter gets to interview an old woman who recounts her life's story (or rather, the different lives she could have experienced, depending on her decisions).|
The recently deceased Vicente Leñero is considered one of the most important Mexican writers of the second half of the Twentieth century. During his career, which started in the sixties, he was often an experimental writer, though his experiments usually resemble more the philosophical explorations of the French Nouveau roman movement than the more ludic creations of the Oulipo literary group. Therefore, this novel - the last one he ever wrote - took me by surprise due to its similarities to pick-a-path fiction. The book does not contain any "turn to" instructions, but there are several forking paths in the story, depending on the decisions the protagonist makes. Unlike Kim Newman, Leñero does not mention choose-your-path fiction (though the book includes an epigraph quoting Borges' The Garden of Forking Paths), but the parallels suggest he must have been familiar with it.
While the protagonist's life takes very different turns depending on which path is being read, at some points the book suggests they may all be very different from what actually happened to her. At other points, the novel suggests there might be at least some truth to all of the contradictory paths, therefore blurring the differences between fantasy and reality. Overall, I found this to be a fast-paced and engaging read (though it is written for a Mexican audience, and therefore requires some familiarity with the social and cultural life of Twentieth-century Mexico to fully appreciate). It is much less didactic, however, than Consider the Consequences is, which is desirable when you just want to focus on enjoying a story. I recommend this book if you want something different than the fantasy tropes that are standard to most gamebook fiction.