‘The Five Wounds’ by Kirstin Valdez Quade

The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade, 2009

The magic trick:

Cutting out the middleman on the Christ metaphor

“The Five Wounds” became a full-fledged novel 12 years after it first appeared as a short story in The New Yorker. This being Short Story Magic Tricks, we’ll focus on the short story. It’s a good one, to be sure.

Literature is filled with Christ figures and crucifixion metaphors.

“The Five Wounds” ups the ante those a bit. Here, our redemption figure in question Amadeo is literally playing Jesus Christ, and, yes, his crucifixion metaphor takes the form of a literal crucifixion. Amadeo is playing Jesus in an annual religious tradition of Los Hermanos in New Mexico.

If it sounds intense, it is. And it’s certainly fertile ground for redemption narratives.

And that’s quite a trick on Valdez Quade’s part.

The selection:

Amadeo sits at the other end of the couch, uneasy. He wipes his palms along his thighs, works his tongue inside his mouth. Three times he looks out the front window, but the old man is gone. With a sudden stitch in his gut, Amadeo thinks of Tío Tivé. He can’t know that Angel’s here and pregnant for all the world to see.

“So,” Amadeo says. “Your mom’s probably gonna want you back soon, no?”

“No. I’m staying here with you and Gramma awhile. I gotta teach her she’s not the only one in my life.”


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