Saturday, February 18, 2017

Things We Lost in the Fire

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez
Hogarth: 2/21/17
eBook review copy; 208 pages
ISBN-13: 9780451495112

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez is a highly recommended collection of 12 ominous and dark short stories set in contemporary Argentina.
These stories capture the superstitions, instability, violence, and strangeness that can pervade everyday life in Argentina and turns this into more ominous stories. It will be surprising when you start the first story and see it morph into something completely different, setting the tone for the whole collection. Peculiarities and aberrations abound among the settings of these stories. Some will shock, some will horrify, and some will leave you looking around wondering what is really lurking nearby in your neighborhood.

The stories include:
The Dirty Kid: A woman becomes obsessed with a homeless pregnant woman and her son who live by an abandoned building across the street.
The Inn: A haunted tourist hotel was built on a former police barracks.
The Intoxicated Years: An account of the increasing drug use of five friends. 
Adela’s House: An abandoned house may be more than it seems.
An Invocation of the Big-Eared Runt: A tour guide for Buenos Aires murder sites resents the attention his wife shows their newborn. 
Spiderweb: A broken down car helps a disintegrating marriage to crumble.
End of Term: A girl is self-mutilating.
No Flesh over Our Bones: An anorexic woman finds a human skull in the street and attaches human qualities to it.
The Neighbor’s Courtyard: a woman is sure a neighbor has chained up a young boy.
Under the Black Water: A polluted river may hold more than it seems.
Green Red Orange: A man secludes himself in his room, seeing no one in person.
Things We Lost in the Fire: Women are self-immolating in protest of domestic violence.

The stories are all well written, although, naturally, I did enjoy some more than others. They manage to capture life in Argentina and the belief among the citizens, as well as the violence, crime, gangs, etc., especially against women. The stories are open-ended, with no real explanation or conclusion, leaving you to wonder what will happen next. This is a wonderful collection.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Hogarth.

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