Books · Read in 2022 · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Dangers of Smoking in Bed (Mariana Enriquez)

Mostly these just did not do much for me – just ok

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: The Dangers of Smoking in Bed
Original Title: Los peligros de fumar en la cama
Author: Mariana Enriquez
Translator: Megan McDowell (from Spanish)
Genre: Short Stories / Horror
First published: 2017 (in Spanish)
Edition: Paperback, published by Granta in 2021

The stories in this collection are as terrifying as they are socially conscious, and press into being the unspoken — fetish, illness, the female body, the darkness of human history — with unsettling urgency. A woman is sexually obsessed with the human heart; a lost, rotting baby crawls out of a backyard and into a bedroom; a pair of teenage girls can’t let go of their idol; an entire neighborhood is cursed to death by a question of morality they fail to answer correctly. Written against the backdrop of contemporary Argentina, and with resounding tenderness towards those in pain, in fear, and in limbo, this new collection from one of Argentina’s most exciting writers finds Enriquez at her most sophisticated, and most chilling.

***

It is always disappointing when a book you had high expectations of fails to live to those. I try not to go in with pre-conceived ideas. Yet, at the end of this much louded collection I just feel very little.

These stories are mostly set in Buenos Aires and maybe part of my problem is that I know next to nothing about Argentinian culture. To be honest, it started out strong and I thought I was going to love these stories, but story after story just failed to grab me. Yes, they were weird and I tend to like weird. But maybe it was simply not my kind of weird. Some seem to have kind of shocking content for shocking content’s sake, if that makes sense. Maybe the author was making a particular statement. She probably was and maybe I am too stupid to see it.

There was some stories I enjoyed, but overall they left me rather cold. The longer story was probably the one I liked best, probably because it gave me a little more to grab hold of. Maybe the other stories did not give me enough context- as if they were just snippets rather than anything complete. I felt very removed from them, but maybe that’s a good thing!

This is certainly not a bad collection, but it clearly was not for me. I don’t think I will be reading more from the author. Clearly, many people love this collection, so if you think it sounds like it’s up your street, do read it!

4 out of 7 stars

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