Weekly Readings: Horacio Quiroga

I feel like continuing with the horror trend that I established in the past few weeks with the likes of Le Fanu and Ray Bradbury. This week we will be focusing on Horacio Quiroga and his short story The Feather Pillow (El Almohadon de Plumas).

Quiroga (1878-1937) was a writer from Uruguay, master of the short story genre. His tales tend to feature a jungle setting and you can see in them a fascination with the themes of death, tragedy and sickness.

If you think you are having a bad time through life, you might want to take a look at Quiroga's to help put things into perspective. His life was plagued with tragic accidents and suicides. When he was only two months old his father accidentally killed himself by firing a gun he was carrying. Eventually his mother remarried, however on 1896 his stepfather suffered a stroke leaving him almost paralytic. This caused his stepfather to commit suicide by using his feet to fire a shotgun, to make matters worse he did this while Quiroga was entering the room he was in.

In 1901, he published his first book, but his happiness was cut short after two of his brother died of Typhoid fever. In that same year, one of his writer friends decided to challenge to a duel a journalist who had given him bad reviews, Quiroga concerned for his friend's well being decided to inspect the gun he would be using at the duel, while doing so he accidentally fired the gun and ended up killing his friend. Horacio was taken into jail by the police and eventually released after the nature of the accident was proven.

Quiroga was married for a few years and had two children, but his wife committed suicide in 1915, while their oldest daughter was just 4 years old. He eventually remarried and had a third child.

In the year of 1935 Quiroga started experiencing symptoms of cancer, a diagnosis that was confirmed in 1937. Quiroga decided to end his life by drinking a glass of cyanide, but his tragedies wouldn't end there, after his death his two oldest children committed suicide, one in 1937 and the second one in 1952.

Ok, so... after traumatizing you with the tragicness of Horacio's life, let us get back to the Short Story.

The Feather Pillow features a young couple of newly weds, Alicia and Jordan. After a few months living together Alicia starts getting sick. Although they bring in a doctor to check upon her they are unable to determine the cause, with Alicia getting worse by the day. The story is really well told and instills in you a sense of despair and hopelessness. You can find the full text here.

Feel free to check out the rest of the Weekly Reading Series. As usual Coil subscribers get a little bit of extra content.

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