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Issue number nine




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Lord of the Flies by Marco Denevi

The flies imagined their god. It was also a fly. The lord of the flies was a fly, now green, now black and gold, now pink, now white, now purple, an inconceivable fly, a beautiful fly, a monstrous fly, a terrible fly, a benevolent fly, a vengeful fly, a just fly, a youthful fly, but always a fly. Some embellished his size so that he was compared to an ox, others imagined him to be so small that you couldn’t see him. In some religions, he was missing wings (“He flies,” they argued, “but he doesn’t need wings.”) while in others he had infinite wings. Here it was said he had antennae like horns, and there that he had eyes that surrounded his entire head. For some he buzzed constantly, and for others he was mute, but he could communicate just the same. And for everyone, when flies died, he took them up to paradise. Paradise was a hunk of rotten meat, stinking and putrid, that souls of the dead flies could gnaw on for an eternity without devouring it; yes, this heavenly scrap of refuse would be constantly reborn and regenerated under the swarm of flies. For the good flies. Because there were also bad flies, and for them there was a hell. The hell for condemned flies was a place without excrement, without waste, trash, stink, without anything of anything; a place sparkling with cleanliness and illuminated by a bright white light; in other words, an ungodly place.

(translated by José Chaves)

Marco Denevi was born in Sanez Peña, a suburb of Buenos Aires, in 1922. While "shuffling papers with great efficiency" at an insurance office, he wrote his first novel, Rosaura a las Diez (1955), which became a bestseller and was translated into English some years later as Rose at Ten. In 1960 his short story, "Secret Ceremony," won a major prize juried by Ocatavio Paz, was translated into English (Time, 1961), and then made into a film starring Elizabeth Taylor. He left the insurance business in 1968 to dedicate himself to writing, and died in 1997.

José Chaves was the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship for 2000-2001, during which time he compiled, translated, and published the anthology of the Latin American "mini-cuento" in which this translation of “The Lord of the Flies” first appeared (El libro de la brevedad/The Book of Brevity, Trilce Editores, Bogota, 2000). His own stories and poems have appeared in The Atlanta Review, Rattle, and Exquisite Corpse. Two of his short shorts, “Lobster hat,” and “All I misunderstood as a man makes complete sense as a parrot,” appeared in Issue #5 of The Cafe Irreal.

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story copyright by author all rights reserved
translation copyright 2000 by José Chaves