Monday, March 29, 2010

Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This book of short stories is one of my favorites by Marquez, the legendary Colombian writer of magical realism. Each of the stories touches on the theme of displacement, the strangeness of life in a foreign land. The two that stand out the most in my memory are "I Only Came to Use the Phone" and "The Trail of Your Blood in the Snow." In the former, a woman's car breaks down and she hitches a ride on a bus to try to find a phone. The bus is on its way to a mental hospital and in a terrifying series of events she is mistakenly admitted as a patient. In the latter story, a woman pricks her finger on a rose thorn and she inexplicably bleeds from her finger for days as she and her new husband drive to France on their honeymoon. She is admitted to a hospital where visitation is only allowed on day a week, so her husband must spend an exasperating week, without any knowledge of her condition, before he can see her again. In both stories the characters are thrust into a situation beyond their control, and the result is maddening, for both them and the reader.

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