Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"The Flamingo's Stockings" by Horacio Quiroga -Project 196 Uruguay

"The Flamingo's Stockings" by Horacio Quiroga (1918, 5 pages)

Project 196

22 of 196 Countries
Horacio Quiroga

  1. Georgia 
  2. Canada
  3. U. S. A.
  4. The Republic of Korea
  5. Antigua and Barbuda 
  6. Haiti
  7. Trinidad and Tobago 
  8. Ukraine
  9. Cameroon
  10. Botswana
  11. Sudan
  12. Dominica 
  13. Israel
  14. Syria
  15. Ethiopia
  16. Zimbabwe
  17. Peru
  18. Chile
  19. South Africa
  20. Turkey
  21. Peru
  22. Uruguay 
"The Feather Pillow" a truly horrifying story set deep in the Amazon basin

"The Decapitated Chicken" (If this story does not give you chills, have yourself checked over-the post also contains links to three other of his stories.)


Uruguay was home to the great Horacio Quiroga.   I have read and posted on several of his stories and I would say if you like horror stories you will love the stories I have posted on (there are links in my posts to his stories in English).  Read one and you will seek out others!

In a list of "must read short story writers" Roberto Bolano listed him first.  

Horacio Quiroga (1878 to 1937-Salto, Uruguay) is considered the first modern South American short story writer.    He called Edgar Allen Poe his greatest teacher (and he lead a life at least as tragic as Poe's).    He has been called "The Edgar Allen Poe of the Amazon" as he is most famous for his horror stories set in the jungles of the Amazon.   His stories are about people at the end of their rope, people driven mad by the isolation of the jungle,  the borders between hallucinations and reality and above all, death.   

Quiroga's father accidentally shot himself  before he was three months old.   Quiroga accidentally killed his best friend while cleaning a gun.    His best friend, also an author, shot himself after a bad review.   He had several very doomed from the start love affairs and marriages    When he was 22 his step father shot himself.   

At about twenty two Quiroga  discovered Edgar Allen Poe and knew he must become  a short story writer.   He also wrote several novels but his 200 or so short stories are his legacy to the world.   At about this same time he went along as official photographer on a trip with the famous Argentine poet, Leopoldo  Lugones, to  visit Jesuit missions in the Amazon region.    Quiroga fell in love with the jungle areas of the Amazon.   He was enthralled by the lush danger, the feeling of unlimited fecundity, the strangeness to him of the native people, and one must admit the cheapness with which land could then be bought there.   He set up a farm there and did many experimental things no one else had tried before.   Most of them were failures (I sense he was best at starting things!) but they show he had a great practical intelligence not just literary.   

In addition to his horror stories, he wrote a number of children's stories, collected in the book Jungle Tales, 1918.   His children's stories were written with the market place in mind, while his short stories were written to express his passion for the art form.   Saying that "The Flamingo's Stockings" is a pretty scary children's story.  I somehow do not think you will find its like in the children's section of any big chain book store now.  I am sure any editor of children's books would tell the author he was crazy to think they will print the story.  

The story is set at a party given by the vipers.   All of the animals of the Amazon were invited, frogs, alligators, coral snakes, toads, turtles and fish.   "The alligators to adorn themselves, slung garlands of bananas around their necks and smoked huge Paraguayan cigars".  The toads are decked out in their best, the frogs are perfumed from head to tail and each one carried a small torch.   The most splendid of all were the coral snakes, dressed in long satin gowns.   "Prettiest of all were the vipers.  Each one, without exception, was wearing a dancers costume matching the color of its skin".   The flamingos are the only ones not enjoying themselves.  They had white legs at that time and were jealous of everyone else's outfits.   They device a plan to take the outfits of the coral snakes.  Which, as you will discover if you give yourself the pleasure of reading this delightful story, a very big mistake.

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