Flag Day had occurred two weeks prior to my party, and this particular co-worker showed up to the event with a copy of Pedro Páramo, by Mexican author Juan Rulfo.
I had never heard of the book, or author, before. Neither had he, though he went on to explain that he had learned that Juan Rulfo had been a very famous author that lived near Guadalajara. He thought that, were I to read Pedro Páramo, I would have something to discuss with the locals once we arrive at post.
He was right.
Over the course of the last two days, I finally made time to read Pedro Páramo. I find only a little shame in admitting that I have no idea what it's about.
Don't get me wrong...I loved the book. It's just one of those that you have to read a second time to understand.
Pedro Páramo is the story of Juan Preciado and his mission to fulfill his deceased mother's last request - that he journey to the town of Comala and meet his father, Pedro Páramo, whom his mother had left prior to his birth. The journey leads him to what can best be described as a ghost town. There are no people here. Only echoes of the past. Echoes that Juan is inexplicably able to interact with.
What follows is a whirlwind story that left this particular reader with more questions than answers.
Told in a style known as "magical realism," Pedro Páramo takes place both in Juan's present and Pedro's past. There are no chapter divisions to tell your mind when the story flow changes. You must remain sharp or risk losing your sense of direction...just like Juan Preciado. By the end of the novel, I was not even certain that Juan Preciado still existed...or if he ever had. I think that was the point, but a second reading will tell me for certain.
I start my Spanish class on Tuesday. Pedro Páramo will most assuredly stay on my book shelf, to be read again at a later date. I like to think that, when that day arrives, I will be able to comfortably forgo the English language translation that I currently own in favor of a Spanish-language copy.
As someone that likes to read, I had already considered the fact that finding English-language books might be more difficult while living abroad. Now, thanks to this birthday present, I am eager to read more from the local talent, in the local tongue.
What better way to make new friends than through their entertainment media?