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Quim Monzo's "Gregor" at Numero Cinq

Back when I was at Dalkey, we published a fantastic short story collection entitled Bad News of the Heart by Douglas Glover. The stories in there are touching, very funny, and incredibly well-crafted. Douglas went on to “win the Governor General’s Award“http://www.canadacouncil.ca/prizes/ggla/kf127248822388593750.htm for his novel Elle, and although we didn’t publish that novel, Dalkey did do his book on the Quixote, The Enamoured Knight. Douglas was great to work with, and you should definitely read his books.

We’ve been in touch off and on over the years, most recently concerning his new project, Numero Cinq, which started as “a reading, discussion and resource site for a small group of Douglas Glover‘s friends and Vermont College of Fine Arts writing students” and has grown into something much bigger.

Here’s a bit on the origin of the name:

The name for the blog comes from DG’s short story “The Obituary Writer” in which story the hero, based loosely on the author as a young newspaperman, harasses a distraught neighbour who lives in the apartment across the hall by making loud noises in the night and pretending to be a member of a sinister terrorist group called Numéro Cinq.

Nice.

Anyway, the site is definitely worth checking out. Recent posts include pieces on Rat Death and Dickens, and on The Poet as Translator.

In addition to all that, recently Douglas ran “Gregor,” a short story by Quim Monzo appearing in the forthcoming Guadalajara. Also one of my favorites in the book. You can read the whole thing here, but here’s the opening:

When the beetle emerged from his larval state one morning, he found he had been transformed into a fat boy. He was lying on his back, which was surprisingly soft and vulnerable, and if he raised his head slightly, he could see his pale, swollen belly. His extremities had been drastically reduced in number, and the few he could feel (he counted four eventually) were painfully tender and fleshy and so thick and heavy he couldn’t possibly move them around.

What had happened? The room seemed really tiny and the smell much less mildewy than before. There were hooks on the wall to hang a broom and mop on. In one corner, two buckets. Along another wall, a shelf with sacks, boxes, pots, a vacuum cleaner, and, propped against that, the ironing board. How small all those things seemed now—he’d hardly been able to take them in at a glance before. He moved his head. He tried twisting to the right, but his gigantic body weighed too much and he couldn’t. He tried a second time, and a third. In the end he was so exhausted that he was forced to rest.

He opened his eyes again in dismay. What about his family? He twisted his head to the left and saw them, an unimaginable distance away, motionless, observing him, in horror and in fear. He was sorry they felt frightened: if at all possible, he would have apologized for the distress he was causing. Every fresh attempt he made to budge and move towards them was more grotesque. He found it particularly difficult to drag himself along on his back.



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