So, in my never-ending quest to find Unique Things to Blog About (since cats, politics and #amwriting are all largely taken), I’ve had a bit of a brain wave: short stories! My reasoning being: they’re what I read, and also, (therefore) what I write.
So, here we are, my newestmostfavouritistthing (at least, till I get bored) is What have I been reading this week?!
Part 1: Mariana Enriquez’s “Things we lost in the fire”.
Never heard of her? Well, no, me either, actually, not till I was sloping about in Shrewbury’s branch of Waterstones a few weeks back and spied it. And this is why bricks n’ mortar book shops still rock, isn’t it? If I’d been trawling through a certain online bohemoth’s virtual shelves, I’d have just been bored with yet more meh! I’ve already read enough of….
So, anyway, I took one look at the cover, saw the words/ phrases, ‘gothic’ and ‘psychological terror’, thought, that’s right up my street, and the rest, as they say, was cliche….
Let me tell you about Enriquez. She’s gothic (duh!), in all senses of the word. There’s an other worldliness to her, partly because her stories are set in Latin America, so the landscape is very different from the average Crap Midlands Towns that I’m used to: her characters are preoccupied with fears I’ve never had to entertain (personal violence, grinding misery…), the myths and urban legends are new to me, so reading her is like dipping into some strange Lonely Planet Guide of fiction.
But, is it ‘psychological terror’? Well, I’ve not had to sleep with the light on or anything, but I have been left with an unsettled feeling- haunted by all of the horrors she’s left unsaid. Because, that’s what Enriquez does with her writing, she doesn’t take you to monsters, plonk you in front of the big scaries, she more guides you to the room where they’re hiding, let you hear their monstrous scratching, and then abandons you there, and from the door jamb, you might peek and be scarred for life, or you might just decide to turn back having not looked, scuttle away and put the light on instead. But, you’ll still know what you heard and what it could mean. Enriquez is Eraserhead, not the Ring: you’ll feel bothered by it on some level but you won’t be able to explain why.