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by Christiane Vadnais

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a very short book of short stories--with lots of white space and pages between stories. The stories all revolve around the town of Shivering Heights--a rainy, misty place. Most of the stories imply climate change and a wetter climate. Not hotter, just wetter.

But the weather is not all that is changing. There are also parasites that are attacking people, making them sick and killing them. A scientist named Laura appears in several of the stories--she is researching parasites. Animals and plants of all kind are evolving. Including people, as they are undergoing fast-paced evolutionary changes, into fish-like creatures and bird-like creatures.

It is atmospheric, creepy, and a little confusing as the stories may be linked through setting or through characters. It is definitely interesting, but it feels like an underdeveloped idea--could these stories be the basis of a novel? Or could there be a larger collection featuring Laura, expanding on and fully connecting the ideas here? Or perhaps that while this feels underdeveloped to me, it is a style in French short stories?
Thanks to LibraryThing and Coach House for an ARC of this title. ( )
  Dreesie | Jan 29, 2021 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Fauna by Christiane Vadnais (translated by Pablo Strauss) is a chilling tale of the last days of the human race as we know it (as in, the last days of Homo sapiens sapiens). The stories all take place in Shivering Heights, which is drenched in water in all its forms, teeming with microbes, including one specific invader that seems to be aggressively spreading. Connected through place and time and characters, the stories follow Laura, a biologist, who's studying the particular disease, as she herself is undergoing a change she doesn't understand (nobody does). Call it the end, call it evolution's last step before a race dies out or becomes something else, Fauna chronicles those last days of eerie existence and transformation into something new and terrifying. The translation is very good, seamlessly carrying the meaning without ever tripping over language. Recommended for those who like eco-fiction, irreverent cleaners, epic snow storms, and strange spas.

Thanks to LibratyThing and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed this work. ( )
  bluepigeon | Nov 17, 2020 |
a bizarre dream of a book. strong Annihilation and Fever Dream vibes ( )
  ireneattolia | Nov 15, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
“Time passes. No sea monster has deigned to nip at the feet he dangles underwater. When the clouds begin their descent, a bearded giant with arms thick as lifebuoys disrupts Thomas’s solitude to heave garbage bags into the lake. Thomas would like nothing better than to be a ballast for these sacks of trash, to dive in among the roiling waste as it makes its way slowly to the bottom of the lake. He wants only to decompose with this garbage. But this garbage will endure for centuries, as Laura would have pointed out.”

(Can I just say, MOOD.)

I have been looking forward to Fauna since I first heard about its original publication in Canada two years ago, and was so thrilled to finally get my hands on a copy. It did not disappoint. Fauna is a slim volume and a fast read but I found myself wanting to slow down and savor the gorgeous wordsmithery as long as possible. (Pablo Strauss’s translation is crushingly beautiful.)

Fauna looks ahead to the future we’re creating: the hard realities, the transformations we will be forced to undergo as people and as cultures, adjustments borne of need. Wildness rediscovered. There are elements of ugliness and violence in this future, but also beauty, mystery, possibility — often in the same moment. (“Not even concrete is forever.” Is that a threat or a promise?) The stories in this book are otherworldly, although they’re about (a version of) our world. There’s a dreamy quality to them — it was as if they were obscured by mist, and I could only chase fascinating glimpses. I will be thinking about Fauna for a long time to come.

(Content note: sexual assault; violent death; harm to animals, animal death.) ( )
  theodarling | Oct 26, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a series of linked short stories, published in French in 2018, and just now translated into English. The stories all take place in and near a town called Shivering Heights, where something strange is happening: the people have attributes of animals, some have voracious appetites, and a parasite is changing the local ecosystem. The stories mostly center on a biologist from outside the community who comes to investigate it, but there are other ones about its residents: a young man who falls in love with her, a group of people staying together in a cabin as their numbers dwindle, an HR administrator visiting a spa.

There are some great visuals and metaphors here, but none of the individual stories came together for me. Strange things happen, and some I get, but many just seemed strange for the sake of strange. Which can work-- I don't think this is the kind of sf that trades on explanations-- but then something else needs to carry you through the story-world, and I didn't think the characters interesting enough or the themes complex enough to do it. Why can't Laura's lover find her when she leaves, and why does everyone else act like they've never even heard of her? What does the opening story about the spa have to do with anything?

I did like "In Vivo," where Laura (the biologist) comes to term with her own infection, and her apparent pregnancy. This one felt like it had something to say, about how we get supplanted, as individuals by our progeny, and as species by whatever can succeed better as the ecology of the world changes. I wish more of them had been like this, sharp sets of observations focused on a compelling idea.
  Stevil2001 | Oct 23, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vadnais, Christianeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cabanillas Resino, MartaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strauss, PabloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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