The Obscure Side of the Night

obscureNorberto Luis Romero
Translated by H.E. Francis
Otis Books/Seismicity Editions ($12.95)

At only ninety-three pages, half of which are in the original Spanish, Norberto Luis Romero’s The Obscure Side of the Night packs a challenging amount of images in its brief, obscure narrative. Romero’s sparse plot accentuates its symbolic ambiguity; to enter these pages is to slip into a Kafkaesque nightmare where the bizarre and illogical rule. In this world, sadistically governed by the “fat man” and his manipulative “gloves,” the unnamed narrator stands outside of the action, preparing for a war without an enemy and a Great Fair in which the winner is already known. While the masses are subjugated by a religious devotion to the commodity—useless, colorful objects exchanged at the Fair—the elite succumb to their most base instincts, helpless in their desire for more power, sex, and wealth. It’s a nightmarish allegory for a fully commodified culture, where “giving is considered absurd” and bartering is filled with “beauty and mystery.” The Obscure Side of the Night’s strengths lay in its impactful brevity and haunting symbolism—here, readers will leave bewildered and hopefully, a little disturbed.

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