cover image Sacrifices: Stories

Sacrifices: Stories

Rodrigo Blanco Calderón, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead. Seven Stories, , $16.95 ISBN 978-1-64421-174-8

Venezuelan writer Calderón (The Night) returns with a wonderfully bizarre and dreamlike collection. The narrator of “Petrarch” confides how it felt to finally graduate from high school at 21 in Mexico City, to be named for a 13th-century poet, and how his hair turned white as a kid. “Black Holes” follows a new taxi driver trying to support his teenage son. Late at night, while shooting the breeze with other cabbies, the driver learns about “Big Tits,” his colleagues’ name for a woman whose supposedly rides naked around town on her motorcycle, and becomes obsessed with seeing her. “The Mad People of Paris” follows the aftermath of the Bataclan massacre in 2015 as the narrator, a researcher visiting the city 10 days after the attack, meets people still in recovery and describes the grief carried by Parisians as “a kind of invisible shawl.” Calderón’s precise prose here (and throughout) is wonderfully translated by Bunstead, as the narrator remarks how “the silence of those days was a scarf made of the very air, wrapped close around the necks of the locals and we foreigners alike.” Calderón brings a delicate focus to his characters’ strange encounters. This writer continues to impress. (Sept.)