At first, it became obvious why “Spoken Portrait” by Uriel Quesada was picked for the Iowa Review because of the author’s ability to relate to the readers. At the bare surface that’s all the seems. However, the story goes deeper with the reader. This is a story about a writer in a coffee shop and she is trying to come up with something to write about but can’t find the inspiration to write about anything. As a way to distract herself, she’s observing people and coming up with a story about their lives based on the observations.
The main character is spending their time at the coffee shop, observing people and coming up with a story. At first glance, it seems like a mundane activity that they are doing because they are distracted and can’t write a story. But what the author does really well support the made up stories with detailed descriptive. The writer is trying hard to write a story. However, the main character doesn’t realize that she’s already writing a story about the strangers. The character even creates dialogue for the strangers and provides an elaborate storyline.
At the end, the readers transform in a psychological twist in which, the stranger that she’s observing is actually drawing out the story that the writer is making up. In a way, it resembles the concept of Inception, but it has its own twist and it’s not as confusing as the real movie. Overall, I did enjoy the story because of the detailed descriptions and the twist at the end. Also, this story was originally written in Spanish, so I want to know if any details were left out through the process of translating the story.
by Natalie Avila
The full story can be read here.