Story Review: The Story of the Lizard who had the Habit of Dining on His Wives

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The following post has been written by Michael Malan, a student in Dr. Simone Muench’s Fun with Fiction course this fall. Dr. Muench assigned two stories for her class to read — My Parent’s Bedroom by Uwem Akpan and The Story of the Lizard who had the Habit of Dining on His Wives by Eduardo Galeano — and told them to write a review of the story they liked the best. The class then chose the best review of each story. Michael Malan’s review of The Story of the Lizard who had the Habit of Dining on His Wives was chosen as the best. You can read the previously posted story review at this link.

Men Love to Eat Women: Gender Relationships in The Story of the Lizard Who Had the Habit of Dining on His Wives

The dominant theme in Eduardo Galeano’s The Story of the Lizard Who Had the Habit of Dining on His Wives is consumption. The main character, Dulcidio, eats his wives after marrying them, always demanding more to feed his ravenous appetite. It is only when he meets a girl he cannot have and therefore desires does he lose his hunger, and it is this girl who ends up consuming him. Is this a case of “be careful what you wish for” or is there a deeper social commentary on gender relationships?

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Story Review: My Parent’s Bedroom

Image source: http://robaroundbooks.com

A quick note about commenting If you click the little number in the talk-balloon button at the top right of this entry, you can comment very easily on what you see here. We’d love to see some comments begin to pour in as that will help us grow our community!

The following post has been written by Summer Hallaj, a student in Dr. Simone Muench’s Fun with Fiction course this fall. Dr. Muench assigned two stories for her class to read — My Parent’s Bedroom by Uwem Akpan and The Story of the Lizard who had the Habit of Dining on His Wives by Eduardo Galeano — and told them to write a review of the story they liked the best. The class then chose the best review of each story. Summer Hallaj’s review of My Parent’s Bedroom was chosen as the best.

What is love?

In the heartbreaking short story My Parent’s Bedroom by Uwem Akpan, death literally rains down on a nine year old girl living in a small village in Rwanda. The story opens with Monique struggling to understand the chaos and terror that she feels radiating from her parents. In the midst of the genocide in Rwanda, a mob of villagers has descended upon the home to claim the life of Monique’s mother. The feeling of being surrounded by death is masterfully illustrated by Akpan in the shocking realization that the ceiling is dripping blood from the hidden Tutsi fugitives the family is protecting. Death is closing in on the house as the mob approaches and death seals a lid on the home with the image of the massacred refugees above Monique in the attic. Akpan uses these images of death and violence to instill a sense of panic and horror at the approaching murder of Monique’s mother.

The history of this genocide comes alive in this story. To murder another with a machete is a deeply personal act and Akpan illustrates this personal quality through the relationship between the mob and those they murdered. Each of these groups of people knew each other on a personal level; they were members of the same church, school, family. The image of Monique’s coerced father murdering his resigned wife is both unimaginable and unforgettable.

Akpan’s choice of a child narrator is brilliant because it allowed the story an impossible level of tragic sadness. Monique, as a child, is only on the cusp of grasping the events around her. Such a perspective gives the reader an aching sense of dread as the mob descends on the home armed with machetes, and then instills a sense of rage and disgust when the man leading the mob is Monique’s uncle. Monique’s innocence makes her harrowing ordeal somehow more terrible. Akpan masterfully paints the scene in vivid and horrible hues, coloring the story with the manipulated anxiety and sadness of the reader.

This is a story that cultivates power in its ability to provoke emotion and thoughtfulness from its audience. It raises a compelling philosophical dilemma and questions the existence of moral absolutes. Is it better to spare the lives of your children, but partake in the murder of the innocent, or to indirectly murder your children to spare the lives of others? Which act is an act of love? In a story thick with implied meaning, Akpan, a Jesuit priest, unequivocally makes the case for compassion and social justice. The ghosts of history’s past haunts the reader, refusing to let the horrifying atrocities of the genocide in Rwanda be forgotten. Akpan’s story is not only beautifully written; it is socially important and thought provoking.

Summer Hallaj, Lewis University student