“Spiderweb”

This week’s weird fiction being discussed over at LibraryThing.

Review: “Spiderweb”, Mariana Enriquez, trans. Megan McDowell, 2016.

Enriquez is an Argentinian writer, and this story is interesting mostly for its details of life in Argentina and Paraguay (where the characters go for a trip). At the time of the story, Argentina is no longer under a dictatorship and Paraguay still has their dictator in Stroessner. That would place the story sometime from 1983 to 1989.

Our narrator, whose name we seem never to learn, has one big problem: her husband Juan Martín. She impetuously married him out of loneliness when she was a teenager after her mother died. Juan has his good points. He doesn’t cheat on the narrator. He doesn’t beat her. He has a job that supports them fairly well. He even wants kids. But we’ll learn plenty of his faults as the story progresses.

The narrator, on the other hand, admits she’s a passive woman, and she admits she doesn’t want her favorite aunt and uncle and cousin Natalia to meet Juan. Eventually, though, Juan gets taken off to meet the relatives in Corrientes, Argentina.

Juan does not impress them. His constant comparison – unfavorable – of life in the provinces compared to big-time Buenos Aires does not sit well with them particularly Natalia. Continue reading ““Spiderweb””

“The Intoxicated Years”

This week’s weird fiction.

Review: “The Intoxicated Years”, Mariana Enríquez, trans. Megan McDowell, 2015.045149511X.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_

Enríquez gives us a familiar plot setup: the ups and downs, the conflicts and friendship among three teenaged girls.

Except these teenagers are thoroughly unlikeable, and they take teenage callousness and self-centeredness to unusual levels.

The story starts in Argentina in 1989, and I would suspect Enríquez, who was a 16 year old Argentinian that year, is more reporting than inventing with her characters.

It’s a time of electrical blackouts and runaway inflation:

Our mothers cried in the kitchen because they didn’t have enough money or there was no electricity or they couldn’t pay the rent or inflation had eaten away at their salaries until they didn’t cover anything beyond bread and cheap meat, but we girls – their daughters – didn’t feel sorry for them. Our mothers seemed just as stupid and ridiculous as the power outages.

This is not going to be a story of family reconciliation and daughters learning new respect for their mothers. It’s not even, really, about friendship – just a collapse of attachments and social relationships down to the singular trio, the coven, of the three main characters. Continue reading ““The Intoxicated Years””