Fever dream by Samanta Schweblin
Original title – , Distancia de rescate
Translator – Megan Mcdowell
Source – Personal copy
Now this was the first book I read after the longlist came out as it was the one we may have called in I feel if it hadn’t made the longlist. Samanta is another from the granta list of the best Spanish language writers under 35 that came out a few years ago , I wish they would do a few more of these books for other languages that list has produced some of the best books I have read over the last few years and Samanta is one of the names of that list I had want to try long before I actually got to this book .
They’re like worms
What kind of worms ?
like worms , all over
It’s the boy who’s talking , murmuring into my ear. I am the one asking questions.
Worms in the body ?
Yes, in the body
No, another kind of worms
It’s dark and I can’t see.The sheets are rough, they bunched up under my body. I can’t move , but I am talking .
The opening lines leave the question why is the sheet rough on Amanda is she even alive ?
The english title is maybe more to the point of what this book is the spanish title means rescue distance , which in itself is a question where as the english title is Fever dream and that is just what we have here . Two people in a hospital room the first Amanda she lies waking from a fever or in a fever and beside her is a boy , not her son David he is trying to guide her in his own young way , she talks of worms around her he gets he to try to rec all what exactly happened to get them there .Then earlier Amanda in her dream talks to Carla about her son that fell ill six years earlier Also called David .We also see a bleak land that of Patagonia , this land where the Gauchos still farm like they did years ago but is this also a sign of how the world she lives in has changed recently ? Amanda story is one that has very few answers to us as the reader more questions which even thou this book is only 150 short pages it has me two weeks later think about what it is all about ,
How can it not be ? That’s the story we need to understand
No , that’s not the story, it has nothing to do with the exact moment. Don’t get distracted.
I need to measure the danger, other wise it’s hard to calculate the rescue distance . The same way I surveyed the house and its surroundings when we arrived, now I need to see the green house, understand its gravity .
When did you start to measure this rescue distance ?
It’s something I inherited from my mother. “I want you close ” she’d say to me . “let’s stay within rescue distance .”
The spanish title explained her in a detached conversation from Amanda .
This is a very unsettling book that has echos of so many thinks , I do wonder myself if it is just one person with two voices , is David a soul that Amanda meet when she was at the hospital before with her own child , like the landscape she lives in is he a shepherd to guide either one way or the other to the light of life or to the light of being with a daughter she may have lost . Maybe this is like the sixth sense or the film the passenger where those that are dead never really accepted that they are like Bruce Willis or Anne Hathway in both those films need to be guided to the other side . The book to me has a feel of Beckett in a way Amanda and David detatched voices remind me somewhat of Vladmir and Estragon waiting in a room somewhat in limbo trying to get from one place but waaiting for some to guide them. Amanda voice at times remind me of the way Beckett wrote in something like Not I her life tumbles out of her at a great speed , this is wonderfully drawn out in Mcdowell’s translation . For me this will make the shortlist and may just make our shadow shortlist.