The increasing popularity of Latin American books led to the re-release of La Vida Breve originally published in 1950. Brausen’s wife has been seriously ill with breast cancer and there is little expectation that she will ever recover. After taking care of her for so long, Brausen suffers the understandable fatigue, mental stress and guilt that comes with being her primary caregiver. Brausen begins indulging in his fantasy world of Santa Maria as he listens to the sexual exploits of his next-door neighbors. Escaping into his fantasy world becomes a seductive relief valve as Brausen struggles with the growing physical and mental toll of caring for his wife with no hope of assistance.
Balancing the real and imagined, this touching cautionary tale was written long before aging baby boomers were faced with caring for aging parents yet the message remains a valid now as it was in the 1950’s. Primary family caregivers need a support system and must be allowed regular time off from their taxing duties, an observation that shows Onetti’s gift for observation.