cover image A Thousand Morons

A Thousand Morons

Quim Monzó, trans. from the Catalan by Peter Bush. Open Letter (Univ. of Nebraska, dist.), $12.95 trade paper (122p) ISBN 978-1-934824-41-2

The latest from Catalan author Quim Monzó (Guadalajara) is a slender yet brilliant collection of stories that subvert the expected, embrace absurdity, and add profundity to the mundane. While the lives of writers fill many of these pages—dreaming of lost friends (“Two Dreams”), shirking the advances of fellow writers (“Praise”), adding whimsy to the banal task of completing a short newspaper assignment (“Thirty Lines”)—not all of Monzó’s protagonists toil in the literary world. Adult children preside over elderly parents in “Mr. Beneset” and “The Coming of Spring.” “One Night” finds a desperate prince striving to rouse a sleeping princess through a series of increasingly bawdy acts. And in “Saturday,” a woman follows a meticulous routine as she slowly cleans her home of every memory it ever held, including those of herself. Split into two parts—one containing longer prose, the other, flash fiction—and beautifully translated, Monzó’s 19 tales succeed so completely thanks to their curious view of the everyday. His is a world in which men become lost in existential thought while glancing out a window, where the Virgin Mary chooses to not bear a child, and where moments of hearty belly laughter are often trailed by gasps of horror. (Dec.)