The Houseguest

“I’ll never forget the day he came to live with us. My husband brought him home from a trip. At the time we’d been married for almost three years, we had two children, and I wasn’t happy. My husband thought of me as something like a piece of furniture, one that you’re used to seeing in a particular spot but that doesn’t make the slightest impression.”

The Houseguest & Other Stories
By Amparo Dávila; translated by Audrey Harris & Matthew Gleeson
Source: Personal copy

Even though The Houseguest is a short story in this collection it packs a powerful punch. The husband brings a guest to stay with his family and terror for the women and children ensue. Whether they are asleep or tending to their daily chores, his presence is felt everywhere. He lurks in corners and watches them while they sleep and eventually even begins to harm them.

All the while the husband has no idea or doesn’t care that his family is at risk. It’s up to the wife and the housekeeper to seize their opportunity when the husband goes away on business. They’ll make sure that they are free from this evil.

While I thought The Houseguest was fantastic, it was The Funeral that left me with a bit of a chill. A man wakes up in the hospital after having suffered a heart attack or stroke. While in the hospital he thinks about his life, his marriage and his lover. He is a man with many plans and dreams but as the days drag on he realizes that his body is not responding. All he wants is one last moment to see the streets, to walk alone and see his lover.

There are twelve stories in this collection and all of them seem to have an element of the fantastical. In all there is at least one character who seems evil but then we are never quite sure if the narrator is projecting their own fears or if the narrator is having some sort of breakdown. Is the danger real or imaginary.

Amparo Dávila was born in Mexico in 1928 and is considered one of Mexico’s great writers of short stories. I had never heard of her but am so glad I have discovered her and I will most definitely seek out more of her books. And, this is high praise from someone who doesn’t typically read a lot of short stories. I hope you’ll give this author a try.

**This counts for the Books in Translation and Mount TBR Reading Challenges

  1. February 24, 2021
  2. February 24, 2021
  3. February 26, 2021
  4. March 1, 2021
  5. March 6, 2021