Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"The Visitor," by Daniel Alarcon

Maybe after recently reading about a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, I am sensitive about tales of survival and natural disaster. This one especially caught me by the unfolding tenderness of the father’s voice. After a landslide, he and three children survive on a crest of a cemetery where the newborn has been buried. The mother had stayed in the village and dies there under the mud. Aid packages drop from parachutes. A stranger arrives with news of the death tallies from various regions. The specific location is not mentioned. The facts of the story pale in contrast to the unfolding details of emotion, memory and sadness. The father at times seems without bearings and time alone seems timeless. This is what he recalls asking his children. “Sometimes I asked, ‘Do you remember where we used to live?’ and their blank stares told me they hadn’t understood my question. I envied them and their youthful amnesia. Under the sweep of mountain sky, I felt alone.” Such elements of time and memory shimmer throughout this story. Read it here at Big Ugly Review.

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