I used to read loads of short stories and prefered them by far over novels. Then I guess my attention went somewhere else and it was no more short stories reading for me, good few years I would say. But the other day I took a thin little yellow book (I’m into thin books at the moment) by the title “Hasta luego, Míster Salinger” by the Venezuelan author Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez. A mystery book because it’s signed by the author and dedicated to someone who, clearly, it’s not me: a guy called Juan Angel Juristo. If someone knows him, please let him know I have his copy…
There a few stories that when reading them you know, you just know, you’ll never forget them. And this book has at least 4 of those. Méndez keeps us glued to the pages with characters that are contradictory and passionate. They live normal lives, they are the next door neighbour and we, as readers, get the chance to get into their minds and live a moment in their lives.
My favourites are “La boda” (The Wedding) and “Hasta luego, míster Salinger”. Especially in these two the author introduces an incredibly well done surprise element that left me with a cheeky smile on my face. In “La boda” the bride gets paranoid about what she considers the odd behaviour of two of her work colleagues, to the point of firing them right there in the wedding party only to find herself minutes later in a passionate encounter with both in the toilets. (Because things like that do not happen at weddings, right?)
“Hasta luego, míster Salinger” makes us feel so sorry for Edgar, a sad wanna be writer desperately looking for his wife after he was told she had been chatting with him that night. I won’t spoil the story for you but in those pages, our minds work out a story that ended up being totally different to reality. But Edgar remains being a sad, sad character, almost poetic.
I do not know if foreign publishers have come across this absolute master of the short story. I guess the non Spanish-speaking word is missing out on Juan Carlos Méndez Guédez (Barquisimeto, 1967) narrative, full of cheeky characters and those moments in life we have all been through.
With books like this I’ll definitely keep the faith in short stories.
If you are lucky enough to read Spanish you can get these wonderful stories on http://paginasdeespuma.com/