Rating: 4 out of 5⭐️
Title: The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories
Author: Mariana Enriquez (Translated by Megan McDowell)
Published: 2021 (Hogarth Press, English Translation)
Pages: 187 (Hardcover)
Genres: Short Story, Fiction, Horror, Magical Realism, Spanish Literature
CW: Sexual Content, For Ages 17+, Strong Themes, Rape, Murder, Gore, Death
Good Evening! This week I finished this much unexpected and spine-tingling book that I cannot remember where I heard of it. The Dangers of Smoking in Bed is by Argentinian author, Mariana Enriquez. This is the first book I read by Enriquez. This edition of her short stories is the first version to be translated into English, I think this book originally was released in 2009 and has been published several times since. I was on the library wait list for this book for quite some time, so long that I cannot remember when I reserved it or why. Still, it was a pleasant surprise to receive the notification that it was ready for me to pick it up. By the end of the book, I was equally surprised and disturbed by these stories (not in a negative way).
“The Japanese believe that after they die, souls go to a place that has, let’s say, limited space. And that when that limit is reached, when there is no more room for souls, they will begin to return to this world. That return is the announcement of the end of the world, actually” – Mariana Enriquez, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed is a collection of fictitious short stories that center around different societal and sociopolitical themes usually regarding feminine subjects and difficult issues. Enriquez’s stories have a macabre ending or lesson, and the stories themselves are quite fantastical, sort of like magical realism with the supernatural and spiritual. This is not like Black Mirror and not all of the stories have a strong, moral lesson… actually most of them do not. Her narratives follow a sort of dark path about humanity and bring in an element of pure horror and disgust. Enriquez’s stories include subjects such as a woman who has an anatomical heart fetish, murdered teenagers coming back from the dead, deceitful witches, a rotting ghost baby, other vengeful ghosts, tape voyeurism and lake spirits.
“We both knew what the ending might be, and we didn’t care” – Mariana Enriquez, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed
I love Enriquez’s bold style, and how she writes with such personal and introspective detail. She is not afraid to bring up the most disturbing and dirty parts of human existence. She goes into such vivid detail when it comes to sex, masturbation, blood, anatomical parts and even pooping. This book is challenging in a good way, and I definitely recommend this book to those ages 17 and up (if you couldn’t tell already by the CW and this review so far…). Some of the details and parts are a little droll, but I found a lot of the stories to be eye-catching and I found myself holding my breath at some parts. Enriquez wrote a truly refined set of disturbing stories, and it took guts to take it all in at times. There are ghosts in her writing not only because of the supernatural elements, and she addresses often unspoken and macabre parts of existence, and is not afraid to get ugly. These are all written in a female’s perspective, which makes this collection even better, honestly. The translation was well-done and clear, too.
“I can’t ever take the evil out of you, because the evil is in your picture, in the water, and the photo has rotted away by now. The evils stayed there in your picture, stuck to you” – Mariana Enriquez, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed
Why should you read this book? If you enjoy challenging, sophisticated and macabre short stories that challenge and touch on sociopolitical themes and make you visibly shudder while reading them, this is the book for you. For how strongly I talk about this book, if this type of book interests you reader, give it a chance! I have not heard a lot of people talking about this new release (I believe), and it is quite a shame.
I give this one 4 out of 5!
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