Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Guillermo Martínez's "Vast Hell" (short story, non-genre, free): This little town loves gossip

Illustration accompanying the online copy at The New Yorker of English translation titled Vast Hell by Alberto Manguel of Spanish short story titled Infierno Grande by Guillermo MartinezAmong the best I've seen so far from The New Yorker.

Story summary.

When the stranger pitched his tent outside the little town of Puente Viejo, & began visiting the barber Cerviño's shop everyday - the same Cerviño with the enigmatic wife known as "French Woman", it set the tongues wagging - about his affair with the "French Woman".

Then, one fine day, both disappear - stranger & "French Woman". There is talk of possible murder. Some people keep looking for bodies. What they finally find is far worse than anyone suspected.

Fact sheet.

First published: Probably as part of author's Spanish collection Infierno Grande (1989). At least this collection's title is translated to English as "Vast Hell". English translation by Alberto Manguel at The New Yorker, 27 April 2009.
Rating: A.
Download English translation by Alberto Manguel from The New Yorker.


Anonymous said...

Could you please explain the ending? Who were are the bodies? What happened to the boy?

Tinkoo said...

Whose bodies were in the mass grave? I guess the answer will be similar to one in some of Gabriel Garcia Marquez stories - some dictator did a major purge, & authorities would rather have the public forget it. I'm not familiar with history of Argentina; someone familiar might want to enlighten in a more specific way.

What happened to the boy? I too found it a loose end. But I didn't really mind it; rest of the story made up for the lapse.

Anonymous said...

The bodies were those of dissappeard people during the military dictatorship in the 70080 in Argentina.

In terms of the boy at the end, it could very well be that he was kidnapped and killed as well in my opinion.