Wednesday 28 February 2018

Things We Lost in the Fire

Finished February 18
Things We Lost in the Fire: stories by Mariana Enriquez, translated by Megan McDowell

This collection of short stories is well varied and often surprising. Set in Argentina for the most part, these stories include many situations. The first is told by a woman living in a nice house in a bad part of town. She's used to the neighborhood and knows what to do to stay safe, but an encounter with a young homeless boy affects her in ways she didn't expect. Another is a strange unsettling experience of a teenage girl in an old inn. A third tells of a series of experiences over several years when a young woman tries to escape her life with substance abuse. A fourth tells of a brother and sister who befriend a young girl only to be drawn into an eerie experience with a boarded up house in the neighborhood. The next is the story of a tour guide who gets obsessed with a long-dead criminal featured on his tour. The next is one that I know I've read before, perhaps in a magazine or anthology. It features a young woman in an unhappy marriage who goes with her husband to visit her family in a town near the border to Brazil. The next is told by a young girl who finds herself drawn to a schoolmate who seems to be having troubles. This is follows by a story of a young woman's obsession with a human skull she's found. The next is a young couple who move into a house they got surprisingly cheap, but the woman finds herself scared of things she can't explain. The next story has a female lawyer finalizing her evidence for a court case against police who seem to be killing vulnerable young men by throwing them in the polluted river. The next story is told by a young woman about her ex-boyfriend who seems to be retreating from life. The last, and title story, is of a group of women who burn themselves to draw attention to the issue of domestic abuse.
I found myself haunted by these stories, wanting to know more, and yet also, not wanting to know.

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