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Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by…

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories

by Mariana Enriquez

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2829660,137 (4.02)41
  1. 10
    White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (banjo123)
  2. 00
    Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (banjo123)
    banjo123: Both books made my skin crawl, in a good way. Both deal with environmental issues.

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English (99)  German (1)  All languages (100)
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
The first story in a collection has to set the tone for the rest. This book opens with one of the grimmest crimes imaginable - but, mercifully, it doesn’t get worse from there. Still, the sense of dread hangs over every scenario that follows. A great, weird, spooky set of stories that mixes ghosts and grisly gang murders with South American politics. Definitely worth a look. ( )
  alexrichman | Apr 17, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Argentina has a beguiling reputation as a country. Visit and you might think you’re somewhere in Europe with its Instagram-worthy architecture and alluring cafe culture. But it also has a dark past, which isn’t so obvious on the surface. Memory is so short but in the seventies and early eighties, Argentina witnessed an incredible purge. People were abducted, tortured in killed in the thousands, political enemies of Pinochet’s military dictatorship. It’s this brutal past that you see in Things We Lost in the Fire, the short story collection by Mariana Enriquez.

I’ve always wondered how you write against a background of such brutality. Enriquez takes an interesting approach, mixing that history with the supernatural, in a kind of harsh magical realism mode. Be warned, children are murdered in this as they were under the regime, but in the stories they are caught up in something supernatural.

Things We Lost in the Fire is dark is a cathartic read. Lit nerds will see it written in a tradition of Latin American fiction, channeling Borges, Cortazar, and others. But it is couched in social and political themes that are sobering. They cast a light on historical violence, trauma, issues of inequality and injustice and live side by side with folklore. What is real, what isn’t? In an upside down world, there is no difference between the horror of real life and the horrors of the supernatural because it’s all heightened. Like a fever dream. A unique voice and fantastic read. ( )
  gendeg | Sep 21, 2018 |
Review of Audiobook Edition

I enjoyed my reading of the hard copy edition of Things We Lost in the Fire and when I saw that fave narrator Tanya Eby had done the audiobook I went straight on and took that in as well.

The creepiness and increasing horror of Enriquez is at least occasionally lightened by Eby's tone and inflections which provide some much needed relief to the ratcheting tension of many of these tales. I'm thinking of the banter between the cousins in the disappearance mystery of Spiderweb and the object fetishism in No Flesh On Our Bones for example. I.e. this is not a lot of relief, but it at least provides some to help lighten the way.

Translator Megan McDowell's excellent Afterword note which provides some context about Argentinean history and gothic writing is missing in the audiobook edition, but it is short enough that you could quickly get through it in a library or a bookstore. ( )
  alanteder | Aug 5, 2018 |
Gothic with a frisson of Lovecraftian terror

There is a slow burn in this book of a dozen short stories that simmers from reserved beginnings to more explicit terror by the end. Each of the stories still has its intimations of ghosts and lurking menace in them but these are not always in the forefront.

I'm not going to go into spoilers here except to say that when you see wording and phrasing such as "YAINGNGAHYOGSOTHOTHHEELGEBFAITHRODOG" and "In his house, the dead man waits dreaming." in the story Under the Black Water, there is no way to ignore the hint of the Lovecraftian Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft's saying "ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" (In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming) is a regular catchphrase in the mythos. Another Lovecraftian touch occurs in several stories where the final sentence packs the largest impact of horror even though it may seem innocuous if quoted out of context.

This first English language book by Mariana Enriquez is an excellent collection of creepy stories that is well translated by Megan McDowell (also the translator of Samantha Schweblin's "Fever Dream") who provides historical context about Argentinean history and Argentinean gothic fiction in a translator's afterword note. ( )
1 vote alanteder | Jul 30, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I really enjoyed these -- very deliciously creepy, and they sit with you for a while. She has great pacing and a very good sense of place. I'm not sure I would reread these; they're a little too disturbing for me. But I am glad I did pick this up.
  calmclam | Jun 27, 2018 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 045149511X, Hardcover)

An arresting collection of short stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortazar, by an exciting new international talent.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 06 Sep 2016 19:07:35 -0400)

"A haunting collection of short stories all set in Argentina" --

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