When There’s a Knock on the Door at Night


When There’s a Knock on the Door at Night
By Xabier P. DoCampo
Small Stations Press 

Some might contend there’s a certain suave subtlety about Galician literature; in which case, When There’s a Knock on the Door at Night is a prime example.

Having already received the Spanish National Book Award in 1995, these four short stories simply shimmer beneath the residue of understatement – which is to say they beguile and penetrate in equal measure.

There again, as Xabier P. DoCampo points out in the Author’s Note: ”I received so many stories by word of mouth that my soul is full of them. Stories that were told to me and that settled down to rest there. Stories like the ones I include here, which made me go to bed on many nights with fear; I would struggle to keep my eyes open and watch how the moonlight eased the darkness of the room; that slender light drove away my fear, and this enabled me to become master of the territory I was in. The secret was not to let myself be carried away to that other territory inhabited by monsters.”

”Monsters”, which, as we all well know, can invariably constitute a myriad of manifestation(s) – more often than not, of the elongated dark persuasion.

Such is the case with the final of the four stories regaled herein, ‘Happy Death Day;’
for as the title alone might suggest, one cannot help but want to delve ever further, ever deeper, unto this entanglement of dare I say it, strangeness:

Dear sir,
In the same way as people congratulate their friends when it’s the anniversary of the day they were born, so I send you my congratulations because today is the anniversary of the day you are going to die. It may sound like a joke, but I can assure you it isn’t […]. I understand that, to start with, this would appear to be bad news, but once you have recovered from the initial shock and have thought about it a little, you will realize this is a privilege more than anything else, because it will enable you to make preparations that few are allowed to carry out […].

Could you imagine receiving such a card (received in a so-called mourning envelope with a black ribbon running all around the edge)?

So yeah, if such doesn’t entice you to read on, then I don’t know what will.
(T)read carefully.

David Marx

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