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Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories

by Mariana Enriquez

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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69511628,275 (4.01)52
"A haunting collection of short stories all set in Argentina" --
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Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
I wasn't quite sure what it make of this book when I started it. It turns out is is a great, but pretty depressing collection of short stories. It is a good mix of horror, suspense, intense, and a whole other set of descriptors for these stories. They were refreshing to read, but very heavy and one of those books that one has to be ready for. It is hard to describe, so just read it. Trust me, but be prepared. ( )
  Nerdyrev1 | Nov 23, 2022 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A very group of stories, some better than others but in general very well created and with an original plot. Perhaps what I liked least were the open endings of some. ( )
  AmalfiDisla | Sep 21, 2022 |
A collection of contemporary stories all set in Argentina.

All the stories are dark, creepy, scary, gruesome, terrifying. The repeating themes are haunted places and ghosts, child abuse and abused children, drug abuse, homelessness, people who are mutilated either by birth or accident or through cruelty or (shockingly in the title story) by choice.

I want to think I'm not a fan of dark short stories, but my reading list and reviews tell me I really love to be shocked and horrified - but only for 10 or 20 pages at a go.

( )
  sriddell | Aug 6, 2022 |
I am a huge fan of Shirley Jackson so the description of this book called out to me and I had to have it.
The stories are quite dark, but not your usual blood and guts kind of horror. Most of the stories begin with ordinary sounding circumstances which lends them a taste of realism that you don't often get in today's horror. The fear builds slowly and subtly. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite, as they were all quite good. I was definitely impressed with the title story which was saved for last. As well as "The Inn" where two friends sneak into a hotel room that has been host to a violent past. "Adela's House" was a chilling tale of a one armed girl and the night she and her friends would have been better off to avoid an abandoned house. "An Invocation of the Big Eared Runt" is an excellent tale of a happily married man who works the "murder tour" taking tourists along the paths of infamous murders. The more obsessed he becomes with a child murderer the less happy he is with his wife and new baby....
"Spiderweb" by contrast had the main characters in an unhappy marriage. Juan Martin is a know it all who knows nothing, not even that his wife has had just about enough of his complaining and uselessness.
A young woman who has suffered with depression has some horrific suspicions about what is going on in "The Neighbor's Courtyard."
If you enjoy dark tales of the macabre and malevolent this is the book for you.
I received a complimentary copy for review ( )
  IreneCole | Jul 27, 2022 |
(Reseña en español abajo.) The first story grabbed me for its description of the Constitución neighborhood in Buenos Aires; a neighborhood that used to be prosperous but is now known for prostitution, drugs and theft.

But if you know how to move, if you understand the dynamics, the schedules, it is not dangerous. Or it is less dangerous. I know that on Friday nights, if I go to Plaza Garay, I can get caught in a fight between several possible opponents: the mini-narcos on Calle Ceballos who defend their territory from other occupants and persecute their perpetual debtors; addicts who, mindless, take offense at anything and react by attacking with bottles; the drunk and tired transvestites who also defend their tile.

The protagonist is a middle-class woman who lives alone in her family's big house; the common type of house in Buenos Aires with high ceilings - a disaster to control the temperature inside. She tries to help a boy who lives on the street with his drug-addicted mother. Later, the boy turns up dead and mutilated or at least she thinks it's him. In the neighborhood there are offerings to good saints and bad saints, which adds a touch of voodoo to the story. Maybe they killed the boy in a wicked ceremony or it was the drug traffickers who wanted to give a warning to their rivals.

The following tales are weaker, they have aspects of formulaic horror tales, such as the house of ghosts, the desire to kill one's own children, and people who disappear without a trace. The protagonists have latent lesbian desires or unpleasant partners. Enriquez writes well about life in various areas and times in Argentina such as La Rioja with its dry heat and Corrientes with its humid heat and noisy insects.

In Spider Web they cross the border to go shopping in Paraguay in the times of the Stroessner dictatorship, the characters are well drawn and I liked the culinary details such as Grapefruit Fanta and roast served on wooden plates, but the twist as in other tales here is not very well developed. As horror stories they don't come close to Horacio Quiroga, but as snapshots of Argentina they are very interesting and well written. The book ends with The Things We Lost in the Fire, which is about a cult in which women purposely burn themselves, ruining their beauty to avoid the attention and mistreatment of men, a powerful and shocking feminist message.

El primer cuento me agarró por su descripción del barrio Constitución en Buenos Aires; un barrio que era prospero pero ahora es conocido por prostitución, drogas y robos.

Pero si uno sabe moverse, si entiende las dinámicas, los horarios, no es peligroso. O es menos peligroso. Yo sé que los viernes por la noche, si me acerco a la plaza Garay, puedo quedar atrapada en alguna pelea entre varios contrincantes posibles: los mininarcos de la calle Ceballos que defienden su territorio de otros ocupantes y persiguen a sus perpetuos deudores; los adictos que, descerebrados, se ofenden por cualquier cosa y reaccionan atacando con botellas; las travestis borrachas y cansadas que también defienden su baldosa.

La protagonista es una mujer de clase media que vive sola en la casa grande de su familia; el tipo de casa común en Buenos Aires con techos altos - una desastre para controlar la temperatura adentro. Ella trata de ayudar a un chico que vive en la calle con su madre drogadicta. Después, el chico aparece muerto y mutilado o por lo menos ella cree que es él. En el barrio hay ofrendas a santos buenos y santos malos, que da un toque de vudú a la historia. Tal vez lo mataron en una ceremonia perversa o fueron los narcos que querían dar una advertencia a sus rivales.

Los siguientes cuentos son más débiles, tienen aspectos de cuentos de horror formulistas, como la casa de fantasmas, el deseo de matar a los propios hijos y personas que desaparecen sin rastros. Las protagonistas tienen deseos lesbianas latentes o parejas desagradables. Enriquez escribe bien sobre la vida en varias zonas y épocas en Argentina como La Rioja con su calor seco y Corrientes con su calor húmedo e insectos ruidosos.

En Tela de Araña crucen la frontera para ir de compras en Paraguay en los tiempos de la dictadura de Stroessner, las personajes son bien dibujadas y me gustaron los detalles culinarias como Fanta de pomelo y asado servido en platos de madera, pero el giro como en otros cuentos aquí no es muy bien desarrollado. Como historias de terror no llegan ni cerca a Horacio Quiroga, pero como instantáneas de Argentina son muy interesantes y bien escritas. El libro termina con Las cosas que perdimos en el fuego, que se trata de un culto en que mujeres se queman a propósito, arruinando su bellaza para evitar la atención y maltrato de los hombres, un mensaje feminista poderoso y impactante. ( )
  FEBeyer | Oct 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
Argentinian writer Mariana Enríquez’s first book to appear in English, translated by Megan McDowell, is gruesome, violent, upsetting – and bright with brilliance.
added by Nevov | editThe Guardian, John Self (Nov 2, 2018)
 

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Mariana Enriquezprimary authorall editionscalculated
McDowell, MeganTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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