This is a short novella about a man in a desert prison. A red scorpion wanders into his cell, and he is faced with the possibility of imminent death. The red scorpion provides a three day death to anyone unfortunate enough to be struck by his stinger. When faced with a guard who’s not on his best behavior, it’s not surprising that the prisoner will leap at any chance he can get to change his fate.
In fact, there were very few surprises at all in this book. There were several things that were unclear about this book, mainly why the prisoner was there and what the outcome was to be of his imprisonment. I felt like the whole book was rather abrupt, and the scorpion scene was the main plot point, which was odd. How did the scorpion get there? And why does he all of a sudden embrace his fear and pick the scorpion up?
On the other hand, I appreciate Gutierre’s ability to maintain focus on just a few short scenes and to use those scenes to tell his story. Clearly the main character was meant to be a bit addled, and his confusion rang true throughout the narration. While I acknowledge that this was essential to his character, I did not find it interesting at all. There was no emotion behind his confusion, and I found no interest in his quest. I found the ending to be somewhat unbelieveable, and the memories that were introduced felt as though they weren’t given enough time to sit with the main character – it seemed a little too convenient for him to remember his son kick-jumping up a wall just at the moment when he’s feeling stuck.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.