Saturday 7 July 2007

Closed for Repairs by Nancy Alonso. Translated by Anne Fountain.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPublished by Curbstone Press

Closed for Repairs is one of those books that makes me extremely glad to have explored short stories collections in the recent years. The book contains 11 tales which deal with aspects of Cuban life, something I knew next to nothing about. The stories often - if not always - maintain a focus on the problems that are faced everyday, whether it is a water shortage, transport issues, the subject of meat, health and many other issues which really give the reader a glimpse into a much different way of life.

I greatly enjoyed reading the entire book. The stories have a way of always reaching deep inside the reader and leading them on a journey filled with raw emotion, often accompanied with humour and ideas that provoke and inspire. The characters involved are often a shining example of how resilient people can be when faced with dire surroundings. The writing is not fancy, and that is just one of the many reasons I liked this book so much. It's very down to earth, clearly and precisely written, and yet the style of writing does nothing to minimize the impact of the experiences within. If anything, it is magnified.

I have many favourite stories within these pages. An Informal Visit, for example, brings us a tale of a town that is facing a visit from a minister who was raised there and left for greater things. The minister has a very clear image of what he expects his hometown to be like and the people from the town work so hard to meet those expectations. As with many of the stories in this book though, things are rarely as they seem, and an unexpected turn in events forces the characters to be quick thinking. The results are nothing less than brilliant.

The Test is among the shortest tales and yet has an amazingly powerful punch. Within two pages, the author manages to bring to the reader, a very vivid glimpse into the desperation and survival instincts of a person.

The Story of a Pothole is probably my most favourite. We meet a character, Noelia Torres. Noelia discovers a pothole in the road and files a complaint. The complaint is ignored and though Noelia writes letter upon letter to the government, newspapers and more, she is left to deal with the situation herself. How she deals with it is not only incredibly surprising and inspiring, but it also teaches a lot about how we can change the way we look at life.

I loved this book and I am so thankful it was translated from spanish so I could enjoy it. The original title of the book is Cerrado por reparación.


Alexander "Sandy" Taylor said...

Thank you, Charlene, for your sensitive review of Closed for Repairs!
All best wishes,
Alex Taylor, Editor, Curbstone Press

Charlene Martel said...

Anytime Alex,

It was such a joy to read it and I love that I can help other people discover this title!