“It feels like worms.”
If anybody has mastered the art of building tension in storytelling, it’s Samanta Schweblin. Her 2014 novella Distancia de rescate was beautifully translated in English in 2017 by Megan McDowell, retitling it Fever Dream. The book breaks down the beginning of an apocalypse in Argentina through the chronicle of a woman named Amanda, who wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of how she got there and 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.
Schweblin’s elegant prose weaves a complex, multidimensional story that is fast, horrific and takes no prisoners. It fills me with worry and dread so much that I have trouble sleeping at night. Every time I read this book, I finish it in one sitting because it is so fantastically paced and unsettling. Most of the questions I ask myself are never answered, and the more I read it the more unsure I am about everything. But most of those questions are, as David would say, “Not important.” Schweblin’s writing is a fever dream that challenges her audience to do many things, two of which are: question how possible it is to trust the narrators; make connections between Fever Dream’s fiction and the world’s reality. She adds a unique perspective about how the world treats the poor who are so often, if not always, the first to face the consequences that come from 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. It may be one of the most haunting, worthwhile books you’ll ever read.(5 / 5)