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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Ignacio Padilla

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To purchase Antipodes

Title: Antipodes
Author: Ignacio Padilla
Genre: Stories
Written: 2001 (Eng. 2004)
Length: 132 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Antipodes - US
Antipodes - UK
Antipodes - Canada
  • Spanish title: Las Antípodas y el siglo
  • Translated by Alastair Reid

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Our Assessment:

B- : fine, and with a nice air of exoticism, but too insubstantial

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Bookforum . Summer/2004 Francisco Goldman
The NY Times Book Rev. . 30/5/2004 James Polk
The Observer . 16/7/2005 Elena Seymenliyska
Rev. of Contemp. Fiction . Fall/2004 Chad W. Post
San Francisco Chronicle . 23/5/2004 Alan Cheuse
TLS . 6/9/2002 Martin Schifino

  From the Reviews:
  • "There seems to be a formula operating here: Inspiration plus time equals fiasco." - James Polk, The New York Times Book Review

  • "It's a shame that the colour of their lives is compressed into doses so small they are virtually opaque." - Elena Seymenliyska, The Observer

  • "(W)hat the reader finds is a fun set of fictions that are refreshing in the challenges they present and quite compelling, especially given the high quality of Alastair Reidís translation." - Chad W. Post, Review of Contemporary Fiction

  • "He sets his tales in out of the way locations and places them in uncommon moments in history, creating brief but rather wonderful excursions along the hazy border between the known and the mysterious. (...) In their ease of disquisition and breadth and range of interest, in their whimsy and in their horror, Padilla's stories display a range and depth previously unseen in the Mexican literary canon." - Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle

  • "It is a rhetorician's style, full of deft emphases, contrasts and cadences. But for all the competence of its execution, Padilla's style is derivative and dated (...) Unlike Borges's Pierre Menard, who rewrote part of Don Quixote in a move towards modernity, Padilla seems unaware that his own prose suffers from untimely ironies and graceless anachronisms." - Martin Schifino, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Antipodes is a collection of twelve short stories. If not downright antipodean, the stories have a displaced feel, with a distinct colonial British air to them -- a familiar enough age, close to our own, but already entirely superseded. Locales include Darjeeling under the Raj, Rhodesia, and a double of Edinburgh, and many of the characters are English gentleman-adventurers, eager to conquer Everest -- or make the trains run on time.
       Padilla writes with elegant precision, despite the often fantastic elements of his stories -- yet another reflection of that lost time in which the spectacular was greeted with that distinctly British attitude of trying to conform to that sense of Englishness, regardless of place or circumstances. Padilla's approach works to fairly good effect, and adds a comic layer to the stories.
       Much of what Padilla imagines is, at the very least, clever, perhaps nothing more so than the opening story, 'The Antipodes and the Century' which imagines a second Edinburgh recreated in the Gobi Desert. In 'Rhodesia Express', time itself defies -- on a small but significant enough scale, a strange local affliction. 'A Bestiary' describes a cave in the Kalahari, and those eager to see the beasts reportedly within.
       The stories are appealing enough -- short, crisp, elegantly written, with some clever invention -- and yet that's all they seem to be. There isn't, in fact, that much to them. They are showy little constructs that glitter from afar but don't withstand much scrutiny.
       They're not bad; in fact, they're all fine. But it's hard to be more enthusiastic than that about them.

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Antipodes: Reviews: Other books by Ignacio Padilla under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Mexican author Ignacio Padilla was born in 1968.

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