I read another one of Enriquez’s collections of short stories, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, earlier this year. I loved that collection so much. In my review, I called it the ‘most effective collection of short stories I [had] ever read’ and a ‘knockout’. I figured that Things We Lost in the Fire would be similar. Unfortunately that is not the case.
In Things We Lost in the Fire, we have the same elements in each short story present in the collection of short stories in The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: magical realism, horror, recycling of names and locations, and an unflinching look into the lives of the poorest sectors of Argentinian and Spanish life. The violence and depravity in these stories is intense. Think about every trigger warning you’ve ever seen. Go ahead and apply it to Things We Lost in the Fire. That is not hyperbole. This collection comes with a trigger warning for body horror, abuse, neglect, violence against children, teens, and women, self-harm, drug use, discussion of rape and sexual assault, animal cruelty, disordered eating, and police brutality.
Compared to The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, there is a feeling of incompleteness that permeates this collection. Enriquez had many phenomenal ideas, and the writing over all is still great. Each story just stops a moment too soon. I recognize that short stories don’t always culminate is the same resolution that novellas or novels do; however with many of these short stories, I didn’t even arrive at that chilling moment that lingers just past the end of the story. Everything just stopped.
Individual ratings of stories:
The Dirty Kid: 4/5
The Inn: 2/5
The Intoxicated Years: 1/5
Adela’s House: 3/5
An Invocation of the Big-Eared Runt: 3/5
End of Term: 3/5
No Flesh Over Our Bones: 1/5
The Neighbor’s Courtyard: 3/5
Under the Black Water: 4/5
Green Red Orange: 1/5
Things We Lost in the Fire: 4/5