The Sweetest Honey

by Mauro Couto

Magic Realism
2019

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Masterwork, but in Spanish, August 25, 2021

This was a really impressive piece of Magical Realism at Rayuela Jam. Also, it has a mature theme, presented in a grim loop, so I understand that this is not the cup of tea of everybody, but... really, this is a masterpiece, at least in Spanish. So, it is 5 stars for me. Probably it needs some professional proof editing, but I don't think the author has in mind the importance of this piece of work to give it an editorial treatment.

So... let's dive into it:

The story presents us with a kind of groundhog day in the life of a middle-aged person who has lost the joy of living. Without a job to motivate him, divorced, a distant son, it seems that everything has conspired to turn his back on him.

The protagonist dies of starvation or loneliness, each day, and here comes the magical realism, resurrected to repeat that same day over and over again. One does not know if it is magic, a curse, or superpowers, or if what is happening is an ellipsis in the worst years of the life of a person without hope of living. The narrative and prose execution of the loop is amazing.

But what has surprised me the most has been the structure. The interactive work has an elegant implementation. I have not looked inside, but I guess it is a day of the real groundhog day (nodes that repeat in a loop) where the text varies and evolves, where going several times through the same node does not repeat the same text. This is wonderful and this is how interactive fiction based on hyperlinks should be: text and narration must always flow and evolve, even if the same nodes are repeated. The works must be aware of the flow and adapt to it.

Another example of the masterful narrative design is the prologue: a first non-interactive and linear sequence that serves as an introduction to the drama and then grants the power of agency in the hands of the reader. Very elegant.

There are some things I could improve ... I have found a couple of points where more interaction could be added, or where there are no options for my motivation as a reader/player. But those are me nit-picking.

And now is when I'm going full hyperbolic mode. I'll say more, this story, as it is implemented, could perfectly serve as an interactive story on Netflix. In other words, it is a perfect Interactive Drama that would fit the bill perfectly shot as an interactive movie.

The conclusion of the story perfectly closes the circle and the created loop, elegantly.