Skip to main content

New Yorker Fiction Review #175: "Spiderweb" by Mariana Enriquez

Image result for "SPiderweb" mariana enriquez

Review of a short story from the Dec. 19 & 26, 2016 issue of The New Yorker...

This story, "Spiderweb," by Mariana Enriquez, combines a lot of what is great about Latin American fiction -- mysticism, the gothic, a deep mistrust of authority -- without the overdoses of magical realism that I've never particularly been able to get on board with.

In this story, a young Argentine woman, her husband, and her neice, all take a trip into Paraguay (which sits on Argentina's northeastern border), have some car trouble, get spooked by some Paraguayan soldiers, and the main character's husband walks off into the night inexplicably.

In the meantime while all this is happening, the main character laments the fact that she's married the wrong person. In fact, if nothing else, the story is a pitch-perfect glimpse into the psychology of someone trapped in a relationship with someone they've come to loathe.

The main character's desperate wish that when she comes out of her shower, "the cigarette would have set the sheets on fire and [her husband] would die there, in the Clorinda hotel" is so frank and macabre it's almost funny. And most importantly, it's honest writing.

Carrying through the story is the main character's running obsession with insects and their names. She seems to be fixated on the names of insects and how certain of the names are inappropriate, such as firefly vs. lightning bug.

I don't know how to feel about this gag. I don't think it particularly ties into the story very closely, or very well, but all the same: it kind of works. It gives the main character a sort of dreaminess that sort of goes along with the fact that, at least at this moment in her life, she is not in this world, not living her life, but rather a life that she hates, as she dreams of a way out of it. She wants life to be better, more beautiful, but at this point in time she is powerless to make that happen.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Piece of Advice I Learned From My Grandfather

My grandfather was one of the most learned men I know. He read widely and voraciously, and not just in the sciences (he was a doctor); he loved politics, philosophy, and great literature as well. Whenever he finished a book he would write his thoughts about the book in the front cover and then sign and date it. To this day every once in a while I will open a book from my bookshelf or my mother's bookshelf, or at one of my family members' homes, and there will be my grandfather's handwriting. He was also a great giver of his books; if you remarked that you liked a particular one or wanted to read it, you were almost sure to take it home with you.

Reading is a very solitary pursuit but my grandfather was not a solitary person. He relished having family and friends around him which is convenient because he was blessed with a lot of both. And he carried out his intellectual life in a very "public" way as well. He was, in some ways, an intellectual evangelist. If he r…

100,000 Page-views?

So, sometime quietly over the past couple days, my lifetime page-view count for this blog drifted over the 100,000 mark. Even though most of those  page-views are either 1.) my own, or 2.) "views" from bots or scammers in eastern Europe, I still can't help but be a little bit pleased at having reached the milestone.

So if you've ever clicked on this blog (and apparently you have) Thank You for helping me feel a little bit less like just another random guy with a keyboard shouting into oblivion about stuff no one cares about. Really...thanks.

Barcelona Defeats PSG 6-1 (6-5)

Okay, does anyone else out there think the UEFA Champions League is fixed and ergo complete bullsh*t?

Barcelona FC came into this game down 0-4 to Paris St. Germain after the first leg of their Round of 16 game in Paris. Because of the bizarre way the Europeans do tournaments, the two teams play twice -- once in each team's home grounds -- and the aggregate score is what matters. Meaning, even if Barcelona won this game by a score of 3-0 they still would not have advanced, because the aggregate score would have been 4-3 in favor of PSG. Get it? Yeah, neither do I.

But basically, Barcelona needed to score at least five goals in order to emerge victorious and advance to the next round. And god forbid that not happen...

People are already calling this the greatest comeback in Champions League history. And whatever, who am I to argue, I've been following soccer closely for three years. Maybe Barca deserved it. But to me the whole thing smells a little "match fixy." Why?