My Documents - Alejandro Zambra

I first learned of the Chilean writer Alejandro Zambra when I came across his short story “Family Life” in Harper’s earlier this year. It’s a charming and unassuming story about an apparently unemployed forty-year-old named Martín who is housesitting the family home of a distant cousin, his beautiful wife, and their young daughter. While they’re away in Europe, Martín spends much of his time smoking, watching TV, and doing little else until the cat goes missing, at which point he meets a woman named Paz and pretends that both the cat and house are his, that the picture of the beautiful woman on the wall is of his recently separated wife and that she’s keeping their daughter away from him. Things get complicated after that, both with Paz and with the mounting lies out of which Martín sees no exit. At the time I made a mental note of the story and its author, and so when the collection My Documents recently came out—to a great deal of buzz—I made sure to order a copy. I’m glad I did.