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The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories Paperback – Jun 10 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (June 10 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299198340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299198343
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,152,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"As an author of the macabre and of nature, Quiroga redefined the borders of the fantastic, realizing that pure realism was an abomination of the marvelous and horrific reality of the Latin American jungle."—Review: Latin American Literature and Arts



"Quiroga’s stories are, like Poe’s, full of psychological shocks and eerie effects, and are bracingly, if ruthlessly, realistic."—New Yorker

About the Author

Horacio Quiroga (1878–1937) was a master storyteller and author of over two hundred pieces of Latin American fiction that have been compared to the works of Poe, Kipling, and London. Like his stories, his own life from his birth in Uruguay to his suicide in Argentina was filled with adventure, tragedy, and violence.

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Amazon.com: 14 reviews
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Table of Contents Oct. 19 2005
By lissachelle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For those of you curious about which stories this book includes:

The Feather Pillow, Sunstroke, The Pursued, The Decapitated Chicken, Drifting, A Slap in the Face, In the Middle of the Night, Juan Darien, The Dead Man, Anaconda, The Incense Tree Roof, & The Son
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
One of Latin America's darkest voices July 24 2001
By Michael J. Mazza - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The Decapitated Chicken & Other Stories," by Horacio Quiroga, is a remarkable collection of short stories. Quiroga (1878-1937) was born in Uruguay and ended his life in Argentina. The stories have been translated into English by Margaret Sayers Peden.
These are stories of death, violence, horror, adventure, talking animals, and magical transformation. There are a number of grotesque flourishes, especially in the disturbing title story. As a storyteller, Quiroga is comparable to Edgar Allan Poe of the U.S., although I believe his nearest Latin American soulmate is Virgilio Pinera of Cuba.
Some of the best tales in this collection include with the already mentioned title story; "Juan Darien," a magical story which begins "Herein is the tale of a tiger who was raised and educated among men. . ."; and "The Incense Tree Roof," an ironic tale about a beleaguered civil servant. Essential reading for those with a serious interest in Latin American fiction.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A master of horror and suspense July 23 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Worthwhile Nov. 17 2007
By Reader in Tokyo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quiroga (1878-1937) is considered to be one of the finest short-story writers Latin America has produced, and among the writers there with whom the modern short story begins. This anthology was published in 1976 and contains 12 of his best pieces written between 1907 and 1935. It was the first collection in English covering the span of his career.

Quiroga is known for his economy of style and power of dramatic focus, rapid narrative, and dark view of mankind, often showing people motivated by greed, fear, anger, stupidity or a desire for revenge. Most of the stories in this collection involved violence, death, madness or horror. There were also several animal tales featuring dogs and snakes that talked. Many of the pieces were set in the torrid jungle of the Misiones district of northeastern Argentina, and showed man's inability to control nature and fate. Two were set in the city. Just one story in the collection had a conventional hero and happy outcome: a courageous woman rowed for hours against a raging flood to get help for a companion.

For me, the most interesting piece was "The Pursued," an early story containing the narrator's description of the gradual descent into madness of his intellectual acquaintance in the city. The interest came from the gripping description of the descent, and the fact that the narrator's comments suggested that he too was insane and contributed to the other's disintegration. Other good stories included the title piece, which showed children's terrifying powers of imitation in a way that won't soon be forgotten, and "The Dead Man" and "Drifting," about the rage to live against approaching death. The illustrations commissioned for the edition of the book I read were also well done and contributed to the stories' atmosphere.

Some of the pieces had some affinities with magic realism, if that means the use merely of the bizarre or supernatural. His works weren't magic realism in the sense of use of nonlinear, parallel plots, unusual shifts in time and space, creation of a mythical place, or heavy borrowing from myth, legend and dream. The stories included in the collection were very linear in narrative and didn't distort reality in intensifying it. His work may be related to magic realism in the same distant way as an author like Ambrose Bierce or many writers of horror stories are related to it.

A minor criticism of this anthology might be that the atmosphere of virtually unrelieved doom and darkness got a bit oppressive after awhile. I would've liked to read additional stories by this author in this short, 160-page collection to see whether he was capable of a greater range. Within the fictional territory included in this short book, he was powerful. I'd agree with other readers that his writing is important for readers interested in Latin American fiction, particularly the short story.

Another collection in English of the writer's work is The Exiles and Other Stories, produced in 1987 by the same publisher. It focuses more on the atmosphere of the Misiones jungle and the various characters who inhabited it, and less on the intense atmosphere of dread, the supernatural and the bizarre.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
"The best writer in Latin America -- bar none!!" Jan. 9 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Horacio Quiroga wrote like no other. His use of words is phenomenal, and the way he describes the things and people and places in his stories is almost like being there. You can actually SEE the action develop and unfold before your eyes. He has the ability to literally write the reader into his stories. It gives me the impression of being one of the characters the action happens to during the story. After reading these, the stories are not easily forgotten. A classic for all time.


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