“Ambiguous, strange, mysterious and engaging to the core”
Author: Samanta Schweblin
Translated by: Megan McDowell
No of pages: 160
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
About the book:
Amanda is hospitalized in a rural hospital somewhere in the country side. A darkness pervades in the room and a young boy David lies near her bed urging Amanda to narrate incidents from the past. David guides Amanda in her conversations while he also does not allow her to go astray. The story of David is revealed by Amanda where David was poisoned by the lake water and his mother Calra in a desperate bid to save him takes him to a psychic who splits his soul so that David survives. Post this David does not remain the same.
Amanda asks David if she is about to die and David replies in agreement. We come to know that Amanda has a daughter Nina whom she is fiercely protective about and she has this idea of rescue distance which is the time in which she can reach Nina in an emergency. Where is Nina? Why is Amanda hospitalized? What are the worms that are killing her? Why is David leading Amanda to tell the story? This book is one of the most strange yet engaging read.
This book was originally written in Spanish as Distancia de Rescate and has been translated by Megan McDowell. This is a short novel which can be finished in one sitting. The novel is written in the style of a play with a conversation between two major characters of Amanda and David. Yet in the short novel this transition in time, space and events is very smooth. The novel has a pitch which is fast and feverish and keeps you on tenterhooks all the time.
The writing has an ambiguity and yet an intensity that has the power to transport you in time and space. The abrupt pauses and change in conversations topics gives one eerie feeling and keeps you engaged. The books leave most questions unanswered which actually makes you reminiscence about this book even after reading it.
By far this is one of the most strange and unique novels that I have read in a long time. It is this strangeness which makes Fever Dream a truly enjoyable read. The feverish pace of the novel with uncertainty and ambiguity yet a simple narrative style makes this one a really engaging novel. There were times while reading this one when I felt as if I was being watched but I could not stop myself from reading.
Some major themes that I could identify in the book were ecological damage and how this can lead humanity to its end. Maternal love is a very important part of the book and the stifling essence of this is captured well. This is one novel which in its strangeness has an eternal thrill to it.