These days, short stories are my cup of tea because each one can be devoured in just one sitting.
Strange Pilgrims is a collection of twelve stories compiled by GG Marquez from his travels in Europe. Let me approach this through constructivism: Marquez’s style always makes use of magical realism and the symbols are present in each story. The top themes are death and its effects on the living as well as light and the absence of it. The common recurring symbol is blood. This reminds me of his profound use of blood and incidents of bleeding in Chronicles Of A Death Foretold.
My top five stories from Strange Pilgrims are (this is ridiculous, with GG Marquez it’s impossible to settle on just five!):
“I Only Came To Use Your Phone”- Maria is driving alone to Barcelona when her car breaks down and she hitches a ride with a bus transporting women to an asylum. At their destination, it is assumed that Maria is one of them.
Maria dos Prazeres- An aging prostitute waits for her death to arrive in her apartment in Barcelona with her dog whom she has trained to weep at her grave.
Sleeping Beauty And The Airplane- a very beautiful woman sits beside the author on a flight. He is completely captured by her beauty, and here he expresses his musings.
The Ghosts of August- A family vacationing in Tuscany decide to spend the night in a castle of a friend where legend has it, the builder killed his bride in bed before setting dogs on himself. The family then discovers the truth of this tale the next morning where they awaken.
Tramontana- people seek shelter from the Catalan wind which locals call the Tramontana, bringing with it the paranormal effects on everybody.
I have a special liking to these death stories:
Miss Forbes’ Summer of Happiness- Two young boys have the serenity of a peaceful summer holiday until a strict German nanny arrives.
Light Is Like Water- Two young boys ask for a boat in return for their good grades in school. Because of the absence of navigational water, they break the bulbs of their home and the light flows out like water.
The Trail Of Your Blood in Snow-Billy takes his new wife to a hospital to help her stop the bleeding from a scrape on her ring finger from a rose thorn and he is unaware that he will never see her again.
Marquez arranged the stories himself in his order of his writing them. Each one has a pilgrim’s story to tell, in beautiful cities like Rome and Paris. Naturally, he leaves the best ones for last.
Even the prologue has Marquez’s own strange story to tell, of him visiting his own funeral and finally seeing his closest friends, but once the funeral is over, he alone cannot leave.
Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez is a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist. García Márquez, familiarly known as “Gabo” in his native country, is considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. In 1982, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
He started as a journalist, and has written many acclaimed non-fiction works and short stories, but is best-known for his novels, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985). His works have achieved significant critical acclaim and widespread commercial success, most notably for popularizing a literary style labeled as magical realism, which uses magical elements and events in order to explain real experiences. Some of his works are set in a fictional village called Macondo, and most of them express the theme of solitude.
“True memories seemed like phantoms, while false memories were so convincing that they replaced reality.”
With Marquez, the name of the game is magic and majesty, each pilgrim emerging spellbound.
Next on my reading list is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, unless someone out there wants to donate another book to read. What’s on your reading list?