Mark Picketts's Reviews > The Burning Plain and Other Stories

The Burning Plain and Other Stories by Juan Rulfo
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's review
Dec 26, 2011

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Read in December, 2011

So in preparation from some trekking around Mexico this winter break I went to the library in search of books on Mexico and specifically this region (I currently live in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco). Our librarian put this in my hand. Short stories...while traveling with little kids....perfect! I found out a couple days later that it was going to be discussed as a book club book: dos pájaros de una sola piedraa.

Its difficult to give a ranking to a collection of short stories. Some of these stories I just didn't connect with at all, while others I thought were beautifully written in reflecting the people of the burning plain and the lives that they lead. As was pointed on in the introduction of the version that I read Rulfo introduces his tales effectively and creates a cadence that is adds to the stories themselves and is effectively varied across the collection. The stories are generally told about the inland plains from Vallarta which is some pretty tough land and they generally take place around the time of the Mexican Revolution (1910 - 1920). There are all kinds of themes that run through the region that come out in the writing. Themes that are very true within the region: poverty, religion, death, struggle, family, responsibility, heat, despondency, ... It is powerful writing.

Some effective passages:
"we're going to have this revolution with the money of the rich. They'll pay for the arms and the expenses this revolution costs. And even if we don't have any flag right now to fight for, we must hurry and pile up money" p. 73 - The Burning Plain

"Time is very long there. Nobody counts the hours and nobody cares how the years go mounting up. The days begin and end. Then night comes. Just day and night until the day of death, which for them is a hope." p. 100 - Luvina

"But if we leave, who'll bring along our dead ones? They live here and we can't leave them alone." p. 101 Luvina

"And what the devil are you going to do up North? - Well, make money." p. 122 - Paseo del Norte

note from above: i put the page i got the quote on from the version I read, and the name of the short stories immediately following

For all my complaining about books that are too long I think these short stories could even be too short; at times I felt as though I was looking through a stack of old photographs and not getting the whole story. That is of course a short story and I am looking forward to reading Pedro Páramo to get some further insight on Rulfo's writing

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