Jacob's Reviews > Guadalajara

Guadalajara by Quim Monzó
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Dec 21, 11

bookshelves: 2010-2011, short-fiction
Read from August 05 to 10, 2011

December 2011

"When the beetle emerged from his larval state one morning, he found he had been transformed into a fat boy." So begins "Gregor," Quim Monzó's tale of Metamorphosis-in-reverse. And in other times and in other places, the people of Troy refuse the gift of a wooden horse (much to the misfortune of the soldiers hidden--and trapped--inside), Robin Hood steals from the rich until they have nothing left, and the son and grandson of William Tell wonder at the old man's apple-shooting feat. Elsewhere, a famous liar loses control of his untruths, a novelist discovers he has unconsciously plotted out his own life, a man gets stuck inside his own apartment, some kind of war breaks out, a "passionate reader" spends far too much time wondering which of four books to read (a sentiment most Goodreaders can understand), and more...

I fought a duel with Goodreader Daniel several months ago. The terms: publishers at dawn! I attacked first with New York Review Books; he struck back with Open Letter Books. NYRB wasn't strong enough to take the hit, so I parried with Bison Frontiers of Imagination from University of Nebraska Press. But I was still distracted by the OLB Daniel had thrown, so I was unprepared for the triple whammy he sent my way--ChiZine Publications! Mullholland Books! DEL REY IMPAAAAACT!--and I died with "P-P-Penguin Classics!" on my lips.

Trust me, it was epic. You shoulda been there. No photographs or lazy MS Paint jobs survived.

After I got better, I looked up Open Letter Books and liked what I saw. OLB, the University of Rochester's Publishing house, specializes in international literature in translation, and their year-of-books subscription looked too good to pass up, so I signed up. Without doing much research. It hasn't gone as well as I hoped: Ingrid Winterbach's The Book of Happenstance, was incredibly bland. Can Xue's collection Vertical Motion was just baffling, and I only managed a few pages of Sergio Chejfec's novel My Two Worlds. There are two more I haven't read sitting on my shelves, and I have four more to receive, but so far, this subscription's been more miss than hit...

Good thing for Guadalajara, then! Quim Monzó's story collection, translated from the Catalan, was worth the read. Monzó has a thing for stories, whether it be slight (and quirky) variations of older familiar tales--like Robin Hood, the Trojan Horse, of Kafka's Metamorphoses--or his own, strange, maze- and trap-like stories. Labyrinthine apartment buildings, old family traditions, uncontrollable lies--Quim Monzó likes to take an idea and run away with it, to great success. I may have my doubts about my Open Letter subscription, but I'm pretty sure I want to read more of Monzó's work.

And I'm storing up publishers for a rematch. Daniel won't know what hit him.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Daniel The first story in this is good. I did want it to be weirder than it ended up being. Still, I think this anthology is going to be interesting, smart, and bizarre.


Jacob Good to hear. I'm finishing up "The Queen's Mirror" tonight, and I'll start this one tomorrow.


message 3: by Alan (new) - added it

Alan another one to add, thanks Jacob.


Daniel A rematch it is! I will excavate my library and the vast store of books deposited throughout New York City to unearth potent publisher idols.


Jacob No fair, living in NYC. I can't possibly win!


message 6: by Shawn (new) - added it

Shawn Sorensen Excellent review - I love this kind of stuff. Thanks for the find!


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