Fever Dream (Argentina)

Book #9

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell

Reading outside my hotel room amongst the vineyards in the Neuquén wine region.

Reading outside my hotel room amongst the vineyards in the Neuquén wine region.

Argentina has a piece of my travel heart. It was the first trip where I spent a few weeks in the same country - visiting cities, mountain towns, and wine regions. Every time I look back on a trip, I wonder how I got around without any major mishaps and Argentina is no different. Driving along dirt roads with no one else in sight, almost running out of gas on said roads, and using my high school level Spanish to communicate. But I loved every minute of it.

When looking for a book to read by an Argentinian author, I stumbled upon Samanta Schweblin and her debut novel, Fever Dream, most frequently described as a haunting thriller. Some reviewers said it gave them nightmares. Huh…

To my surprise, the library had it so I decided to give it a try. After all, this project is about getting outside my reading comfort zone where I may have some mishaps.

The night I started reading the book, I had a nightmare.

Fever Dream.jpg

Schweblin tells the story of a woman (Amanda) and her child visiting a remote town for a getaway from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires. They befriend a neighbor who they come to discover has a (creepy) young son infected with a weird disease caught from pollutants in the nearby river.

The story surrounds the conversation between Amanda and the neighbor’s son, David, while Amanda is on her deathbed recounting her demise to a questioning David. The dialogue is truly haunting - we hear a woman recount her rapid sickness from the same pollutant and recognize there is not a happy ending waiting in the final pages.

Schweblin is a rich and concise storyteller. This book is almost short story in length and pace. It’s a very small investment in time, but a big mental investment inside Amanda’s thoughts, feelings, and final anguish. I finished this book right before Halloween. That seemed appropriate.