The Dangers of Smoking in Bed is a collection of short stories by Mariana Enriquez. The stories are a mix of magical realism and outright horror. An Argentine writer, many stories take place in Argentina but a fair few also take place in Barcelona, Spain. Enriquez embues each story with a richness of their environment that make each story feel real and possible, despite the more horrific, fantastical elements. Most collections of shorts stories that I have read in my life are mostly fine. They tend to average out to, well, average. That is not the case with The Dangers of Smoking in Bed. This collection is a knockout. Out of the 12 stories in the collection, there were only two that I didn’t like. And those were graded on a curve of the other stories. I think in any other collection they would have been perfectly enjoyable, but the quality of every other story is just so high.
This collection is definitely not for the faint of heart. There is a horror element to each story even if they do not all get gory and grotesque (though a fair few of them do). There’s also something very bewildering and disorientating about multiple characters having the same names in a collection of short stories that made me wonder if they were the same character. Enriquez reused names just enough to make me do a double take and doubt myself; it was highly effective at creating this other-worldly feel.
The voice actress on the audio version deserves her own shout out. She was simply fantastic. She brought energy and levels to her readings that I often miss in audiobooks. She played with the cadence of her speech that really elevated the overall feel of each story.
Favorites: “Where Are You, Dear Heart?”, “Kids Who Come Back”, “The Cart”
Least favorites: “The Dangers of Smoking In Bed”, “No Birthdays or Baptisms”