Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Two successful reads!

I'm finally posting about my first two reads for this challenge. I finished both of these during April, but have not had time to write about them until now.

Strange Pilgrims : Stories, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, was the first thing I read for this challenge. Actually, I've been reading it for a couple of months - a story here, a story there. I had not been aware of this collection, until I saw it on another person's list for the challenge. I have read some of Garcia Marquez's work and really enjoyed it, so I thought it might be a good thing to delve into for the challenge.

What a great collection of stories! The overall theme is that of South Americans visiting Europe, and how they are strangers there, even though connected by heritage. The edition I read was translated by Edith Grossman, and I can only think that she really knows her stuff, since the writing was beautiful, lyrical, and sad, and made me wish I could meet Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to see if he is as wonderful in person.

I really can't choose a favorite story, but here is one of my very favorite passages in the book, from the first paragraph of the story "Sleeping Beauty and the Airplane":

"She was beautiful and lithe, with soft skin the color of bread and eyes like green almonds, and she had straight black hair that reached to her shoulders, and an aura of antiquity that could just as well have been Indonesian as Andean. She was dressed with subtle taste: a lynx jacket, a raw silk blouse with very delicate flowers, natural linen trousers, and shoes with a narrow stripe the color of bougainvillea. 'This is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,' I thought when I saw her pass by with the stealthy stride of a lioness while I waited in the check in line at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for the plane to New York. She was a supernatural apparition who existed only for a moment and disappeared into the crowd in the terminal."

It only gets better from there. I am so glad I found this collection, and can see myself reading the stories again and again.

"Why I Live at the P.O.," from The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. I chose this story because I read it in college, and it is one of my favorite short stories ever. First of all, the title is a great one, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, doesn't it just make you want to read the story??

The narrator tells the story of how things start to head south when her sister Stella-Rondo comes home to stay, leaving her husband and bringing a child who she claims is adopted. The family dynamic changes, as Mama, Papa-Daddy (the grandfather), and Uncle Rondo make a fuss over Stella-Rondo and her daughter, to the point where whatever the narrator says or does is seen as critical of her sister. In the end, she decides that the only way she will get peace and quiet is to move out of the family home to the post office, where she is the postmistress for the small town.

The dialogue is really funny, and Welty makes the narrator someone you understand, and root for against the family and their accusations. I enjoyed this story as much this time around as the first time I read it.

1 comment:

Seachanges said...

I have not read any short stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez but he is on my list for the Neustadt reading challenge - I must get this collection as well. I have him also on my list for a reread of Love in the time of Cholera and don't want to see the film until I've actually done so!