Belatedly acknowledged as a masterful storyteller, Horacio Quiroga lived a life not a whit less tragical and colorful than those of his characters. From the beginning, his life was punctuated by tragedy and death, culminating in his suicide (he took cyanide). When still a teenager, he accidentally shot his best friend while showing him how to clean a gun. As an adult, he settled in the Misiones jungle, where he built a house with his own hands and tried to wring a living out of a farm. The life of hardship he endured there is masterfully reflected in some of his short stories, as are his lifelong obsessions, death and frustrated love. Quiroga was an admirer of Poe, and some of his early stories try to emulate the writer from Baltimore, but eventually he developed his own style, which is, I believe, even more accomplished than Poe's. In Quiroga's case, as has happened with many other writers, the life has obscured the works. Whenever he is mentioned, most people will tell you "ah, yes, poor guy - everybody in his family killed themselves". But his short stories, with the exception of a few very famous ones that are taught in high school, are not so widely read. As you will find when reading this collection, he has an unique way of creating oppressive scenarios, charged with fear, tension, and the unseen presence of evil, which eventually leads to unexpected and fearsome climaxes. Yes, he is macabre, and yes, there is a very nasty streak running through some of these stories - but he is also a highly intelligent, resourceful and accomplished writer, and one you shouldn't miss for the world.