Rodrigo Fresan, "Snatching Bodies" (trans. Will Vanderhyden)


It’s December 15. Rodrigo Fresan, author of The Invented Part, always watches the deleted scenes.

How would you describe your story?

RODRIGO FRESAN: I guess I'd describe it as a sort of alien tale, a body-snatching reminiscence, a trip to that always distant-nearby planet called Memory.

When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?

RF: I wrote it as a sort of bonus track/hidden passage to my novel The Bottom of the Sky. I just took a paragraph out of the novel and expanded it. But wait… Maybe I wrote the short story first and then the novel… Who knows? Who cares? Anyway, now I like to think of it as a small but important moon orbiting the novel-planet. And, as such, it can be understood—living in this time where the future is the present—as a nostalgic elegy to a genre (sci-fi) that has become helplessly nostalgic and melancholic and, I believe, so much more interesting than when it was just futuristic.

What kind of research went into this story?

RF: I guess I just watched—again, for the umpteenth time—Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

What, to you, makes the short story a special form? What can it do that other kinds of writing can't?

RF: Being born in Argentina, I guess I don't have to think about the short story as special. The short story is, for us (Borges and Cortázar and Bioy Casares included, all fantastic writers in many senses of the term), The Genre. What I mean is: we’re not concerned with writing The Great Argentinian Novel. We are too busy trying to write The Great Argentinian Short Story and, in fact, all our Big/Important/Totemic novels are kind of mutants: jolly gatherings of tales that turn into strange beasts with many heads and many plot lines. Novels that dream of being short story collections. And usually, the dream becomes reality. Lucky us.   

Where should people go to learn more about you and your work?

RF: In English: Kensington Gardens, The Invented Part, The Bottom of the Sky, and (coming soon) The Dreamed Part. In Spanish: Open that door and go upstairs to the basement or downstairs to the attic. And, please, feel free to get lost.

What's the best gift you've ever been given?

RF: So many… Define “gift.” A perfect wife and son, maybe? But let's stick to the literary and recent: a first edition of Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov, author of THE Great American Novel: Lolita. But Pale Fire is, maybe, the most forever-modern book ever. Cross out maybe, please. And thank you.

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Michael Hingston