Things We Lost in The Fire: Stories – Mariana Enriquez

thethingswelostthe-book
Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories
By Mariana Enriquez
Translated by Megan McDowell
Publisher: Hogarth Press
ISBN13: 9780451495136
Pages: 208
Genre: Literary Fiction/Psychological Suspense

Blurb:

An arresting collection of short stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortazar, by an exciting new international talent.

Macabre, disturbing and exhilarating, Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of twelve short stories that use fear and horror to explore multiple dimensions of life in contemporary Argentina. From women who set themselves on fire in protest of domestic violence to angst-ridden teenage girls, friends until death do they part, to street kids and social workers, young women bored of their husbands or boyfriends, to a nine-year-old serial killer of babies and a girl who pulls out her nails and eyelids in the classroom, to hikikomori, abandoned houses, black magic, northern Argentinean superstition, disappearances, crushes, heartbreak, regret and compassion. This is a strange, surreal and unforgettable collection by an astonishing new talent asking vital questions of the world as we know it.


my-thought

Macabre is the most appropriate term that I could assign to this dark collection of short stories that is Things We Lost in the Fire. I find myself searching for words that will be strung together to form a summary of my experience with this somewhat unearthly and shocking collection. Please be very aware that the word graphic seems almost light and delicate in comparison to some of the events the played throughout the pages of Mariana Enriquez’s work. Even though I will rate this book highly, I am not recommending it to all.

Beautifully translated, this is a multifaceted, harrowing approach to suspense that is set within contemporary Argentina. These 12 short stories presented the perfect opportunity to diversify my reading a bit more and all seemed to feature several common elements. Female protagonists, poverty, and realism are all skillfully entwined with hints of the supernatural to compile what was ultimately one of my most unique reading experiences to date.

Initially I struggled with Things We Lost in the Fire. While I found myself completely immersed in the refreshing dose of culture and almost inviting writing that created a seamless read, the graphic and heavy content hit me hard and unexpectedly. I am no stranger to twisted scenarios and depictions of gruesome scenes as I love the horror genre. I admit though, that this was extensive and intense. I will not elaborate in this post, but I am giving the simple warning to approach this with caution. It is unsettling.

There are several aspects and topics addressed throughout this collection that should not be overlooked. The author manages to touch on mental health and physical and mental abuse in a manner that does nothing to conceal the raw reality of what it is. The reader is thrown into lives that force them to look at these elements in a head on and uncensored manner. This is a collision. There is something much more than eery stories occurring beneath the layers.

Of the 12 stories my favorite 3 would be:

The Dirty Kid: A woman who has come to view poverty and addiction at its very worst as a normal part of daily life sadly discovers she has become so accustomed to the environment surrounding her that she has been blinded. Now she feels the full weight of guilt after possibly having overlooked all warning signs as she confronts the death of a local homeless child.
*This story is the first on the collection and I found it to be the most disturbing of all. It will test your ability to continue with this book

The Inn: This story manages to cleverly disguise one young girls struggle with her own sexuality among a tale of the paranormal.

End of Term: Readers are given a frightening ghost story surrounding the uncomfortable topic of mental health and social acceptance.

I chose each of these for the message that I discovered tucked beneath the pages that resonated with me long after completing them.  I feel as though there is an endless amount to be interpreted and learned from Things We Lost in the Fire. It will certainly impact us each in various ways.

This is a rich and provocatively written anthology that pits you against real horrors while ingeniously softening them by hiding them among the “ghost” stories. It is slow and masterful revelation full of distressing possibilities and even realities that lurk among us. It cannot be unread.

*I would like to thank both Blogging for Books and Netgalley for this opportunity. This review is my own unbiased opinion and experience.


ABOUT MARIANA ENRIQUEZ

Mariana Enriquez is a writer and editor based in Buenos Aires, where she contributes to a number of newspapers and literary journals, both fiction and nonfiction.

Read more about Things We Lost in the Fire and an excerpt here.

⋆⋆⋆⋆

Purchase Links:

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Book Depository 

Connect With Me: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram

 

 

 

52 thoughts on “Things We Lost in The Fire: Stories – Mariana Enriquez

  1. Yay!! The review I’ve been looking for 😊 Happy to see the four stars. I know I would enjoy this. I like that it addresses topics needed to be addressed, such as the mental abuse, etc, that you mentioned. I’m surprised to hear you say it was hard to read at first and a bit unsettling, though. Hearing you say that, makes me wanna proceed with caution… but I do enjoy that type of stuff (I know, I’m a weirdo I guess.) I’ll definitely be looking more into this one, and hopefully can read it soon!! Awesome review, Danielle!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m glad to have read your review, so far I have been warned but You’ve shed some light on what i should expect & i think I can handle it now that i’m proceeding with caution. I’ve heard of this authors writing which was my key motivator in requesting it. I’ll keep an eye out for your favorite 3 😉

    Great review Danielle!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok, so I’m mad tempted to get this. I was in the bookstore couple days ago trying not to get Paul Auster’s new book when I saw Things We Lost in the Fire calling to me from the stack of books I was standing in front of. I read the first page and couple lines after and wanted to buy it and continue. So yeah, tempted.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the insightful review, Danielle! I don’t read too much horror but you got me interested in Things We Lost in the Fire .. I like that it seems to touch different issues of our societies bjt it’s different and shocking. Sounds like something I have to put on my TBR 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I struggled with this one. It is something that has to be individually experienced to understand fully. It is terrifying but in a completely different and real sense than typical horror. If you decide to pick it up, I would love to compare thought.

      Like

  4. I can imagine it’s not for all to read.. I’m used to some graphic and heavy topics in a book but then they are integrated in a story and just a scene, not the main story thread.. I’m not sure this is my cup of tea :-). Brave of you to head right in and to read it all !

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Graphic and I aren’t chummy, and I feel from your review that this was intense, raw and dark! I admire you for going through this book because some things are hard to see and many of us close their eyes 🙂 me included!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This sounds too dark for me and your review was so compelling I could feel that it was indeed probably too graphic for me. It’s interesting because I just listened to a recent podcast from the NY Review of books and they discussed this book as well as 2 others by Argentinian authors…she said this book scared her!!😳Fantastic review !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sooo depressing! These are some heavy topics and while more than a few stories involve children, I found it a challenging read more often than not. So if you are not seeking something like that, I might put off for a bit 😉 Of course, I know you have the ability to find appreciation where others might struggle also.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t have much experience with darker books but this one sounds really interesting. I’m not sure if I would like it but I think I’m definitely intrigued enough to add it to my TBR as a ‘maybe someday’ read. I’ll keep in mind about the proceeding with caution. Great review as always, Danielle!! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am hoping enough people understand that this is very grim. I do not want to discredit the amazing piece of work it is, but I certainly don’t want to have everyone jumping in thinking it is just regular horror. It is going to hit a nerve for many.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is very well translated (I am guessing because it reads so smoothly). The writing is something to be admired, but more than anything I tip my hat to her for being able to get so raw and approach these subjects like this. Intense stuff 😉

      Like

  8. You have me very intrigued with this book! I’ve had my eye out for this review. It sounds like one of those books that while uncomfortable at times, is powerful and makes you think long after you finish. Possibly would be good for a book club selection? Well, for those members in the book club that would be up for it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was not prepared for what this book really was, but luckily it worked very well with me. This would be an excellent book club title due to the endless discussion topic, but you would want to take care that all readers were comfortable with the content first 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Such a beautiful review!! I really like how you put emphasis on how graphic it can get. Also love the sound of short stories that hold a message and is conveyed with quite the punch! Ohhh, and I REALLY love this expression ” I discovered tucked beneath the pages”. The image is so beautiful, I think I might steal this imagery from you! Don’t be surprised if I ever use it in a review in the future hihih! 😀 😀

    – Lashaan

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s