Fever Dream – Samanta Schweblin

(Tr. Megan McDowell)

Fever Dream is just that. A feverish dream world where a mother and her daughter visit the countryside only to be pursued by strange going ons. The pair meet another woman and her son and all sense of reality unravels from there.

Schweblin’s novel is tiny and I mean tiny – you can read it with a pot of coffee in an afternoon. I sincerely hope you do this too, as I can’t imagine the novella would pack as much punch having been dipped in and out of.

“The important thing already happened. What follows are only consequences.”

The imagery in Fever Dream is utterly fantastic. It shimmers in your mind as you read along. Imagine a scorching summers day, the heat lines dancing above bitumen, your neighbours on edge and then the thought occurs to you that perhaps nothing is as it seems. This is what Fever Dream is.

“She’s barefoot and in her gold bikini. She skirts the pool and walks over the grass a little apprehensively, as if she weren’t used to it or she remembered its texture with a little distrust. She forgets her sandals on the pool steps.”

Schewblin explores many themes in this tiny mood piece – identity, what it means to ‘be’, environmental pollution, our affect on the planet, the ties that bind parents to their children and connection are the ones that stood out to me the most.

“Why do mothers do that?”
“What?”
“Try to get out in front of anything that could happen – the rescue distance.”

But most of all, I love the way it played out in my head. Fever Dream would make a downright creepy movie, you know the kind of arthouse horror that is nominated at Cannes, the one that all the hipsters are talking about. Yes, yes and yes. I even think I would prefer the film to its original novella – if only to see all the gold shimmering on screen.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Oh, and did I mention the narrator is dying and it all reads like a feverish dream?!

Sleep well,

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