In The Museum of Useless Efforts Cristina Peri Rossi renders familiar, everyday situations uncanny through lyrical reinterpretations; at the same time, she somehow makes the uncanny appear quite ordinary. Crafting peculiar—and sometimes claustrophobically small—worlds, Peri Rossi explores the universal themes of desire, violence, and truth and the simultaneous and contradictory human capacities to repress and resist, speak and silence, desire and ignore. In these tales an insomniac is tormented by a stubborn lamb that refuses to jump over the fence; the momentary hesitation of a man on a crowded subway staircase who forgets whether he was going up or down unleashes pandemonium; and a patient receives a frantic call from his psychoanalyst, distraught that his wife has taken a new lover.
"In this finely etched collection of short stories, Uruguayan author Peri Rossi offers parables on the themes of alienation, isolation and obsessive introspection. . . . The delicate existential tales on display in The Museum of Useless Efforts read like sound-bites from a writer fearlessly exploring her own unconscious. Absurd, nerve-wracking, vaguely heartbreaking, these stories remind us that the struggles of artists belong to us all. In the end, The Museum of Useless Efforts is anything but."—Philip Herter, St. Petersburg Times
St. Petersburg Times
"[Peri Rossi] distills small, unexpected delights from the flotsam and jetsam of everyday speech."—Publishers Weekly
"[Peri Rossi] reveals the ways in which fiction is by its very nature duplicitous, being both the life of what happens and the story of what happens. But in Rossi's world, hitting one's head against the imperviousness of daily life becomes a Chaplinesque image of hope."—Bookforum
"Starting from virtually nothing—a phrase, a commonplace idea, a trite situation—Cristina Peri Rossi fashions before our eyes delicate, eerily metaphysical little fictions. Reading her is like watching an expert glassblower at work."—J. M. Coetzee
J. M. Coetzee