Pinera's Cold Tales is a book that deserves as wide a readership as the short fiction of Kafka or Borges. It is a forest of dreams and nightmares, a collection of grotesque instances and absurd repetition. From page to page you will find all things impossible. A descent down a cliff in which two climbers try to preserve pieces of their anatomy. A random encounter that begins with a phone call from a man whose face seems to be at odds with his will. An uplifting passage on the positives of blindness. A lamentation on the inability to predict an exact time of death. And much, much more.
You will also find a thread of mordant humor that puts him in league with the likes of Robert Walser, Dino Buzzati, and Ionesco. But mentioning these authors will only give you a frame of reference. Pinera's short stories prove to be that of a very singular mind, as comfortable one moment writing a visceral piece about climbing inside a dog's throat, as he is the next detailing a psychological back and forth involving a man who must write his way into fortune and the stipulations of his terrible benefactor.
He weaves the sort of magic in a page that many authors couldn't match in fifty. His longer stories, twenty to thirty pages, have novel-like density. In this density, you will sometimes become lost. I know I was. But I think it's important to understand that not all of this is supposed to land smoothly at first glance. The collection registers in a unique way, so that the abstruse elements crawl to the back of the brain and keep planting seeds. And that is the important thing. There are a thousand authors out there who can give you some glimpse into the slice-of-life real world. There are, however, precious few who can take you into the world behind the eyes. Pinera is one of them.