Lovers on All Saints’ Day

Juan Gabriel Vasquez, trans. from the Spanish by Anne McLean. Riverhead, $27.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-59463-426-0
These stories from Vasquez (The Sound of Things Falling) were originally published in Spanish, in 2001, when the Colombian author was in self-imposed exile in Europe and aghast at how “fate or fluke is the name we give to events beyond our control that lay waste to our soaring dreams.” A number of Vasquez’s characters are middle-aged or old, mostly flawed men falling toward solitude at the expense of their lovers and wives. Many of the settings are in the forests of the Ardennes, peopled with hunters and fishermen, and impart a kind of foreboding; the metaphors for which Vasquez is celebrated abound: in “Hiding Places,” an immature fish cannot be saved when lured by a callous sportsman; in “The Lodger,” an address book once rejected by a lover contains beautiful maps of places that do not exist. The title story tells of a man who agrees to spend All Hallow’s Eve night with a young widow, even donning her dead husband’s pajamas to comfort her. Vasquez charts the internal struggles of small men whose mistakes and betrayals condemn them to a confounding world that repeatedly fails to satisfy, a world about which one character wonders “if everything had a human cause and another random one...” The stories “go into dark places and come back with the news. It’s not necessarily geographical,” Vasquez has said, but they do shed “light on dark places of the soul.” (July)
Reviewed on: 05/04/2015
Release date: 07/21/2015
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-59463-427-7
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