If anybody has mastered the art of building tension in storytelling, it’s Samanta Schweblin. In 2014, she published her novella Distancia de rescate. In 2017 Megan McDowell beautifully translated it into English and retitled it Fever Dream.
“It feels like worms.”
The book chronicles the beginning of an apocalypse in Argentina. Our narrator Amanda wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of how she got there or why. In the hospital with her is David, a boy who is not her son but deeply intertwined in her life. With his help and persistent interruptions, she traces her memory back to the beginning of when everything went wrong.
No one is safe
Schweblin’s elegant prose weaves a complex, multidimensional story that is fast, horrific and takes no prisoners. It is filled with worry and dread to the point that it interrupts sleep. Every time I read this book, I finish it in one sitting; it is just so fantastically paced and unsettling.
The book asks a lot of questions it cannot answer. But most of those questions are, as David would say,
“thats not important.”
Schweblin’s writing is a fever dream. She challenges her audience to do many things, but there are two I want to point out. First, question how possible it is to trust the narrators. Second, make connections between Fever Dream’s fiction and the world’s reality. There is important commentary about the brutal ways the world treats people. Especially so those in poverty who are so often, if not always, the first to face the consequences of global elite corruption.
Filled with occultism, worms (so many worms), Argentinian environmental issues and psychological horror, Fever Dream is a nightmare from start to finish. The more I read it, the more unsure I am about everything. It is purely horror. It may be one of the most haunting, worthwhile books you’ll ever read.(5 / 5)
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