After reading through Guadalajara, a short story collection by Catalonian author Quim Monzó, I’ve come to the conclusion that people can be bastards. Uncaring, fickle, hypocritical bastards. The short story collection features historical figures like Robin Hood, William Tell and Odysseus, and it’s often the people they try to save who turn on them. They take the form of the poor folk who exploit Robin Hood’s obsessive need to bring justice until they become the very monsters he fights against. Or, a family who religiously cling to their traditions of cutting off their fingers.
Monzó is relentless in this overriding theme. He beats his readers over the head with it and expects to be thanked for what he’s doing. I enjoyed reading every moment of it because the message is a clear; as humans we’re all prone to the kind of negative traits he displays through the characters in the collection. Each story highlights a different aspect of why we feel the need to justify our right to be cynical or simply be angry at the rest of the world.
The isolated quality of each story strengthens the collection rather than each following on from the other. It demonstrates how people can still develop the same attitude in completely unrelated events. Guadalajara is a haunting collection of cynical tales. But it’s also a profoundly human one.
Guadalajara is available on Amazon.