Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez

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“I think about Adela every day. And if during the day her memory doesn’t visit me- her freckles and her yellow teeth, her blond, too-fine hair, the stump of her shoulder, her little suede boots- she comes to me at night in dreams.”

This a strange, eerie collection of stories. My favorite is Adela’s House because it’s the oddest of them all. While it is true there are similarities to the macabre stories of Shirley Jackson, I feel they have a taste of Joyce Carol Oates too. Mariana Enríquez’s characters aren’t pretty and if they once were, for some even a ‘fire’ has changed that. A strange house that children explore, mysterious dirty children, witches, a man obsessed with a murderer… from Adela’s House on the stories are dark- the first few stories are strange too, even when just writing about young intoxicated girls a bit jealous of their friend’s love for her boyfriend with the drunken spins in a van it comes off as quietly brutal, an unwanted husband in another. In Green Red Orange a young man suffers a different sort of disturbance, mental illness. It is heartbreaking, not just his shut in behavior but how it eats away at his loved ones. Will he come out of his room, is he still alive? The last sentence at the end says so very much, with so few words.

Things We Lost in the Fire, for which the collection is titled, made me smell  burning flesh. Immolation, horrific abuse, a strange feminism that overtakes burn victims,  there is twisted meaning in this story. My skin crawled thinking about it. This was a clever story, and the women are serious about the stand they decide to take, so to speak. These stories of Argentina start of a bit strange only to plunge the reader into creepy darkness. There is something off about every story, and I loved it. I look forward to a full novel by Mariana Enríquez, I find myself curious about her mind. How did she come up with such weird tales? This author is one to watch!

Publication Date: February 21, 2017

Crown Publishing, Hogarth

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