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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Jill Hartley Illustrator. The switchman tells how in some places the train tracks are nothing more than chalk lines and how elsewhere no bridge exists so that passengers must take the train apart and carry the pieces to be reassembled down the line.
The passenger eventually becomes so confused that he forgets where he intended to go, at which point the switchman and his toy lantern disappear into the distance. Whether it is interpreted as an allegory of the pitfalls of the Mexican train system or as an existential horror story of life's absurdities and human limitation, readers will enjoy this classic tale of Mexican magical realism.
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Man needs to take the train, but encounters a switchman - a retired one at that - that tells him the incredible things about the railways. For instance, that many of them don't exist. It's all so odd and bewildering, but it does make sense to relate it to society itself - as far as I've been able to read, anyway. Worth the read and probably worth a deeper study.
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He published only one novel , La feria ; The Fair. His collection of stories Confabulario has been reprinted in several expanded editions and was translated into English as Confabulario and Other Inventions. One of 14 children, Arreola had to leave school at age eight. He tried his hand at several professions, including journalism, teaching, and editing. When he returned to Mexico City , he took an editorial position with a respected firm. He was obsessively drawn to the absurd and enjoyed satirizing modern technology and its monstrous by-products. He sounds at times like a comical and impudent Kafka.
Juan José Arreola
The short story was originally published as a confabulario , a word created in Spanish by Arreola, in , in the collection Confabulario and Other Inventions. It was republished ten years later along with other published works by Arreola at that time in the collection El Confabulario total. A stranger carrying a large suitcase runs towards a train station, and manages to arrive exactly at the time that his train bound for a town identified only as T. As the man speculates about where his train might be, he feels a touch on his shoulder and turns to see a small old man dressed like a railroader and carrying a lantern.