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Strange Pilgrims Paperback – November 14, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Exile and loss are the principal subjects of these 12 stories from the author of Love in the Time of Cholera , which capture with lyrical precision the emotions of disorientation and fear, coupled with a sense of new possibility, experienced by Latin Americans in Europe. Their pilgrimages seldom achieve their goals: the deposed politician in " Bon Voyage , Mister President" sells all his personal belongings to have an operation in Geneva that doesn't alleviate his pain; the devoted father who brings the miraculously intact remains of his seven-year-old daughter to Rome in "The Saint" can't get an audience with the Pope; a particularly chilling tale, "I Only Came to Use the Phone," shows a woman accidentally taken to an insane asylum who can't get out even after she contacts her husband in Barcelona. A note of hard-won hope enters in stories like "Maria dos Prazeres," which portrays an elderly prostitute selecting her burial site, but the mood darkens again as the collection closes with "Tramontania," "Miss Forbes's Summer of Happiness," "Light Is Like Water" and "The Trail of Your Blood in the Snow," tales of suicide, murder, accidental death and tragically missed communications. Lovely prose and some poignant insights contribute to a collection that pleases in its parts but fails to strike a lasting note. But even a minor effort from Garcia Marquez is a standard toward which other writers aspire. 75,000 first printing; BOMC alternate.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The Nobel prize-winning author Garcia Marquez has collected a dozen of his stories about Latin Americans in Europe, most of which, although magical, end on an unsettling note. Thus, an expatriate ex-president is recognized by an ambulance driver bent on exploitation; a man travels from Colombia to Rome with a cello case to see the pope; a woman with car trouble finds herself trapped in a mental institution; a prostitute plans her funeral. The plots are simple, but the character study and use of language is incisive. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/93.
- Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (November 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400034698
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400034697
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gabriel García Márquez (1927 - 2014) was born in Colombia and was a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist. His many works include The Autumn of the Patriarch; No One Writes to the Colonel; Love in the Time of Cholera and Memories of My Melancholy Whores; and a memoir, Living to Tell the Tale. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Denis Benchimol Minev on February 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
In twelve short stories, Garcia Marquez proves that he is not only capable of writing deeply, he is capable of writing concisely. The stories in this book are extremely thought provoking, relating to the human spirit and little oddities about people.
There is one story in particular that I will not forget. It is about a woman who gets stranded with a flat tire, and hitches a ride with a bus to a mental institution. The story unfolds from there, and I don't think I have ever felt so deeply troubled by a single story like I was in this case. Of the twelve stories, I liked 8 or 9, the others were a little boring (or maybe I did not get them). I highly recommend it, especially for those who do not have the patience to read GM's "One Hundred Years of SOlitude" and would like an intro to the author.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on January 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
As I read "Strange Pilgrims," the collection of short stories by Colombian-born Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I was reminded of the classic television series "The Twilight Zone." Like some of the best episodes in that series, many of the stories in "Strange Pilgrims" are rich in irony and psychological intrigue, and incorporate elements of the macabre and the fantastic. And many of the stories have twist endings. This collection has been translated into English by Edith Grossman.
These stories deal with Latin Americans on voyages, for various reasons, to Europe. The book thus has a trans-Atlantic, international feel. Highlights of the collection include "Bon Voyage, Mr. President," about a deposed head of state seeking medical attention in Switzerland; "The Saint," a supernatural tale of a father seeking canonization of his daughter from the Pope; the creepy "The Ghosts of August"; and the grotesque "Seventeen Poisoned Englishmen."
Throughout the book Garcia Marquez presents many images that are beautiful or disturbing, but often memorable: a drowned man floating with "a fresh gardenia in his lapel," a moray eel nailed to a door, a bedspread stiff with the dried blood from a murder. An added bonus is the appearance of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda as a fictional character in one of the tales. "Strange Pilgrims" is a varied collection of weird treats from a master storyteller.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on October 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
I wonder if Garcia-Marquez is capable of writing a bad story. Certainly this selection of twelve are like polished gemstones. They might not be shiny or scintillating, but they are so solid, so satisfying. Each of them centers around Latin Americans, mostly Colombians, and their strange experiences in Europe. Back in South America, they move in familiar patterns, they feel at home, but in Europe, unknown and unseen forces affect them, they are prey to the pitfalls of strangeness, they can't see anything coming until it runs them over. While the gigantic geography, turbulent history, and luxuriant and untamed nature of South America fosters magical realism in authors, at least in Garcia-Marquez and some of the other greats, they also produce characters very much larger than life. Europe has always seemed to me a much tamer place, having reduced uncertainty over centuries--- more set in its ways, with fewer surprises, established, sedate. Garcia-Marquez perhaps sees it in a similar way and it unnerves his Latin American protagonists. An ex-dictator lives in a student garret, sells his jewels, and undergoes a useless operation. A woman disappears "by accident" into a mental institution and a playboy dithers in a cheap Paris hotel, not knowing a word of French, while his young wife dies in a hospital. A postal clerk spends years trying to see the Pope to convince him of his daughter's saintly qualities. He lugs the deceased but uncorrupted daughter around in a huge case. An aged ex-prostitute feels death is at her door, but actually it is something else. Nobody really feels at home, nobody can trust their feelings, because everything works differently. Europe isn't exactly an alien place for them, but they are, each time, unwitting victims of the unexpected.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Strange Pilgrims" is a wonderful, but sometimes overlooked, collection of 12 short stories from the Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The stories that compose the collection vary in length and quality, but even the less successful among them are worthy of the reader's attention. The stand-out stories include "The Saint", "Maria dos Prazeres", "Miss Forbes's Summer of Happiness" and "I Only Came to Use the Phone" -- a bizarre and haunting tale of a young woman whose car breaks down in a Spanish desert, on a rainy afternoon. She is unwittingly picked up as a hitchhiker and mistaken for a mental patient who is taken to an asylum. This theme, of the familiar merging with the nightmarish is explored again in "The Trail of Your Blood in the Snow."

In "I Sell My Dreams", the protagonist meets Pablo Neruda ("He moved through the crowd like an invalid elephant, with a child's curiosity in the inner workings of each thing he saw, for the world appeared to him as an immense wind-up toy with which life invented itself") and discusses the labyrinths of Borges, among other things. "Light is Like Water", a charming ode to the power of a child's imagination, is a story brimming with surreal imagery.

These 12 tales perfectly define the genre of 'magical realism'. The collection also seems like a fine place to start for those seeking to familiarize themselves with the work of Garcia Marquez, before tackling epic novels like "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera". These are the kinds of stories that seem to stick in the reader's memory and welcome repeated readings.
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