Thursday 13 October 2022

The Rifle, and Other Stories - Tomás Carrasquilla - translated by ML Clark

The Rifle, and Other Stories
Tomás Carrasquilla 
ML Clark (Translator)
ISBN 9798438559184

I picked this up because I am a fan of the author who translated this work and wrote the introduction. She wrote a general introduction and introductions to each story. I had heard mention of Carrasquilla, though social media and Patreon. But to be honest am not sure I had ever encountered the name prior to that.I have been a fan over the years of the works of Jose Saramango, Gabriel García Márquez and Manuel Alfonseca in translation, having returning to some of their works multiple times. But if I am honest I really struggled with this volume. The description of the volume is:

“The Rifle, and Other Stories collects eleven stories spanning the literary career of Tomás Carrasquilla, the "first Colombian novelist", whose work is widely known within the country, and a high-school standard in the department of Antioquia, home to the city of Medellín. His novels and short stories straddle the traditional stylings of Costumbrismo and an anti-Modernist, picaresque realism, with a consistent focus on manifestations of Catholicism in both domestic and communal spheres. The stories collected here reveal a striking attention to preserving everyday and festive details of life in and around Medellín during its shift from haphazard ruralism to worldly urbanism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Also included are an introduction to the author in his context, a glossary of older "Antioqueñismos", and a glossary of all the plantlife mentioned in Carrasquilla's prose.”

My struggle s were varied. Some of the stories I read an enjoyed, both as stories and for the Catholicism as presented within. Others as I read then I struggled with the portrayal of Catholicism – so opposed to my own experience. At times the stories were like a gut kick. It took me a long time to work through this work. And Maggie even suggested I give up on it if need be. But I am thankful I took the time and worked through the volume. The stories and sections in this volume are:

Simon Magus
In the Right Hand of God the Father
Dimitas Arias
The Solitary Soul
Darling Saint Antonio
For Money!
The Preface of Don Francisco Vera
The Shrub
The Rifle
Antioqueñismos: A Select Glossary
Carrasquilla’s Garden

At the conclusion of the book is an Antioqueñismos: A Select Glossary and a section called Carrasquilla’s Garden that defines the flora, fauna, fruit and vegetables encounter in Carrasquilla’s works.

Some of the stories are deeply moving. Others left a hollow pit in my stomach, such as Darling Saint Antonio. I can see the appeal of the writing and of Clark’s desire to bring these works into the English world. If I were to try and compare these stories I would say they are like a more depressing J.F. Powers. 

Yet even with my discomfort in reading these stories, I can feel the power of the words, the telling of the tales. I can see why they have captivated Clark and her desire to share them with a wider audience. I would give other works by Carrasquilla that are translated by Clark a try. 

Books by M.L. Clark:
The Bitter Sweet Here and After - Short Story
Uncle Remy's Whizz-Bang Circus
Game of Primes
Fat of the Land
The Shape of Things to Come
The Stars, Their Faces Uplifted in Song

Then Raise the Dead Man High
The Shadow & The Shadow

The Menagerie Mysteries:
The Stars, At Last Count
Wildly Runs The Dying Sun

K-City Kink Sisters:
Lacing Up To Reality - Short Story
One For The Team - Short Story

Contributed to:
Bastion Issue #6 September 2014
Lightspeed: Year One
Lightspeed Magazine, March 2011
The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2017

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, June 2013
Analog Science Fiction and Fact, March 2014
Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2015

Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 199
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 193
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 181
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 173
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 165
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 162
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 156
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 123
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 92
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 86
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 80
Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 74

Works translated by M.L. Clark:
The Marquise of Yolombo - Tomás Carrasquilla

Original Cover

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