The Big Read Blog (Archive)

STONE, SHADOWS, AND THE DAY OF THE DEAD!

Washington, DC

A Chac Mool at the Great Temple of Mexico City. Photo by Adriel A. Macedo Arroyo.

In honor of Halloween and the Mexican El Dia de la Muerte (Day of the Dead), we?re celebrating Carlos Fuentes?s spooky story, ?Chac-Mool." About two years ago, in collaboration with the NEA, the Fondo de Cultura Económica published Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories. This collection celebrates masterpieces of short fiction by literature giants such as Octavio Paz, Rosario Castellanos, and Carlos Fuentes, to name a few. 

A prolific writer of novels, short stories, and essays, Carlos Fuentes is considered one of the greatest authors currently writing in Spanish.  Born in 1928 in Panama City, Carlos Fuentes was the son of Mexican diplomats and grew up in various capitals of the Americas, including Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santiago, and Washington, DC. At age 16 he moved to Mexico City where he studied law and began writing fiction. The spooky classic, ?Chac-Mool,? was published in 1954 as part of his first book --- Los Días Enmascarados, or The Masked Days.  The story title refers to an ancient and mysterious pre-Colombian statue historically associated with rainfall. ?Chac-Mool? chronicles the final, strange days of a dispirited and disillusioned bureaucrat named Filiberto. The voice in the story alternates between the narrator, who is a friend and co-worker of the dead Filiberto, and entries from Filiberto?s diary, from which we learn of the fantastic and frightening events that lead to his death.

Here Fuentes himself reads the opening passage of ?Chac-Mool.?

[audio:http://bigreadblog.arts.gov//audio/FuentesChacMool.mp3]

[transcript]

To listen to the entire story, part two of the Sun, Stone, and Shadows audio guide, please visit the The Big Read website.

Happy Halloween!

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