Astrid de las Nieves, of all people, should know better. How does she mistake the very much alive Johnny Pretty, for a ghost? Well, the story goes way back. Ghost or no ghost, Johnny Pretty is just what she's always dreamed of... and more.
As for Johnny, well – he's been singing for pennies at Slaughterhouse Square for years. After the quake renders him indigent and he sets up digs at the cemetery, he takes advantage of Astrid's increasing infatuation, convincing her to leave food, cigarettes and more, in exchange for a few bars from old songs before he sneaks out to party with friends.
Perspective is skewed through the lens of desire, and happiness is a question of perspective. The thin line between the living and the dead is blurred and nothing is as it seems – rockstar is ghostly indigent, pickpocket is tourism executive, shop owner is purveyor of saints, con artist is plastic surgeon and meddling ghost is guardian angel.
Everything goes wrong but maybe it's right, as heaven and earth settle into an unexpected juxtaposition in this twisted Latin tale that is doused with humor and magic realism.
Great for discussions around the themes of
reality, perceptions and desire.
HARD BED HOTEL IS A HILARIOUS BOOK, the kind that sets you laughing aloud to yourself long after you've put it down.... if you CAN put in down, once the plot starts careening towards its unexpected dénouement. Author Andrea Carter's glee in bringing her oddball characters to life and off to meet their improbable destinies is infectious. Observations gleaned with a bemused eye for the absurd over long years of residence in Santiago infuse this story with fond insights into some of the least obvious corners of the city. – Amazon reader review
BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY FULL OF ECLECTIC CHARACTERS. I bought it in trade paperback, at a Chapters store where the writer was doing a signing. It was an impulse buy, outside of my usual reading. I suppose it would fall under the category of magic realism, especially given the South American setting. I found the characters engaging and likeable in their way. There was a good deal of genuine humour. The paranormal aspect was lightly done and fit the general tone of the novel. I would recommend it. – Barnes & Noble reader review
ALL OF THE CHARACTERS ARE SO MAGICALLY PORTRAYED –truly reflecting us all in a very entertaining manner that makes it impossible not to have a whole bag of mixed emotions about each one. Descriptions of places and situations are so realistic you can smell the atmosphere and feel the vibes in this story. A humorous and absorbing read. Perfect for anyone with an eye for the unusual, and a desire to reach further into a story, past the fiction, to find the truth that comes from within us all. – Amazon reader review
I fell in love with Santiago's General Cemetery the first time I crossed through its gates, not only because of its diverse beauty – from its splendid architecture with classic carvings and modern statues, expansive palms and sprawling vines, birds of paradise, beauganvillea and lush foliage; to its simple metal crosses on barren grounds decorated with bright awnings, banners, stuffed toys and pinwheels – but also because of its diverse character. The acres of sacred grounds are divided into rich and poor neighbourhoods with 'rich Christ' and 'poor Christ' landmarks. Personalities shout from behind the glass cases of their tombs, one piled on top of another along the walls – displaying photos, ornaments, flags, team banners, grafitti; while others whisper discreetly from behind the beautifully designed doors of solitary mausoleums, reciting poems that point towards the sky, caressing the gentle curves of statues with silent breaths. Women sit on mausoleum steps to visit one another as vagrant dogs wander by and cats chase birds on roofs. In the tradition of paying respects to dead relatives, families come to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Importantly, they keep their eternal resting places clean and decorated. This is where the more than 400 freelance cemetery caretakers come in.
Seeking stories about the cemetery, I invited three cemetery caretakers to lunch. These fascinating women and their stories inspired Hard Bed Hotel.
Santiago de Chile
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