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Fever Dream
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2020 Super-Rooster Books > Fever Dream

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message 1: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments location to discuss Tournament of Rooster Winners book: Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin from the 2018 tournament


message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 6 comments Read this one last year when it won, but the only thing I remember about it was thinking it was kind of odd and unsatisfying to me. Books like this one always make me feel like an unsophisticated reader. Maybe I need to re-visit.


lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 54 comments Amy wrote: "Read this one last year when it won, but the only thing I remember about it was thinking it was kind of odd and unsatisfying to me..."

I totally get this feeling. The writing is vague and the story is on many levels incomprehensible, and the author expects us to be okay with that. It's as if being confused and put off is meant to be part of the reading experience. It took a lot of forgiving for me to like this book...I needed to make a leap of faith that the author was trying to evoke in the reader the same unease and lack of answers that her characters feel within the story, rather than getting annoyed at the writer for the book's lack of coherence, or annoyed at myself for not getting it.


Tristan | 81 comments I was not as charitable in my reading of this book as Lark. I strongly disliked it and remain baffled by it winning.


lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 54 comments Tristan wrote: "I was not as charitable in my reading of this book as Lark. I strongly disliked it and remain baffled by it winning."

I agree with the bafflement about it winning the rooster...I liked it maybe because I read it in the month it came out, before either the summer tob or the actual tob discovered it, and, in the easy-to-forgive-any-flaws category of "a tiny obscure translated book from a small press that no one has read yet," I thought it was outstanding.


Ellen H | 704 comments Didn't care for it one bit, didn't get the spooky/creepy vibe that everyone else seemed to get, and was totally mystified, not to say annoyed, at the Rooster rampage and win.


Karin (8littlepaws) | 96 comments Amy wrote: "Read this one last year when it won, but the only thing I remember about it was thinking it was kind of odd and unsatisfying to me. Books like this one always make me feel like an unsophisticated r..."

I could have written every word of this post.


Daniel Sevitt | 80 comments I agree with all the above. The book defeated me. I read it, but remained immune to its charms. I met Samanta Schweblin at a writers' festival shortly after her win, and I'm pleased to say that she was perfectly charming.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 541 comments I've retained the general mood of this book far beyond the plot or characters.


Ellen H | 704 comments Daniel, I remember that you and I were two of the only outliers last year, and I remember that you met her and were charmed by her. But it didn't make you like the book any better, did it?

I'm still stewing over its win. Never say I don't hold a grudge.


Heather (hlynhart) | 298 comments Ellen wrote: "Daniel, I remember that you and I were two of the only outliers last year, and I remember that you met her and were charmed by her. But it didn't make you like the book any better, did it?

I'm sti..."


I'm another one aboard the Boo Fever Dream bus. I never understood the hype, and I agree that it made me feel like maybe there was something wrong with me that I didn't "get" it.


message 12: by lark (last edited Apr 04, 2019 07:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 54 comments Heather wrote: "it made me feel like maybe there was something wrong with me that I didn't "get" it. ..."

this feeling should never be allowed to take hold! there should be an inoculation.

my theory is that polarizing books frequently have gaps that leave a lot up to the reader and the reader's past experiences.

This novel hit a very clear bell with me about the terror of losing a child, maybe because my children were very lose-able and I basically had the "rescue distance" feeling every day.

some books where I didn't have the experience to fill the gaps in were A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing and A Little Life and, one of the super roosters, Station Eleven, all books other people obviously connected with passionately and where I felt left out.


message 13: by Elizabeth (last edited Apr 15, 2019 06:32AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elizabeth Arnold | 697 comments I felt similarly about this until I read this interview...The book is a response to Schweblin's terror at the effects of glyphosate on the population, not just near the fields where it's sprayed but the water in the surrounding towns and cities. In Argentina, they've seen miscarriages, increased cancer rates, birth defects, etc., and of course the children are most vulnerable. And there's nothing their parents can do to protect them...Thinking of this makes the story so much more powerful to me.

https://www.theskinny.co.uk/books/fea...


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 541 comments Elizabeth Arnold wrote: "I felt similarly about this until I read this interview...The book is a response to Schweblin's terror at the effects of glyphosate on the population, not just near the fields where it's sprayed bu..."

I agree Elizabeth - I read this or something similar after reading the book in a confused surreal haze. According to some friends from the area, people from there would know immediately what she was referring to, not a mystery at all.


message 15: by Cat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cat | 34 comments Oh my goodness. I just finished this book. Our son was born with brain damage and I found so many details of this haunting and reminded me of the early days with him for some reason. The rescue distance. There are so many details I want to write about and dig into and see why they are eerily familiar to parenting a baby in the nicu and with brain damage. I just need to process and digest. What a wonderful book. So creepy though!


message 16: by Cat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cat | 34 comments I also just finished reading Voices from chernobyl and it really reminded me of that as well. Poor kiddos with radioactive thyroids. :(


message 17: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1617 comments Cat wrote: "Oh my goodness. I just finished this book. Our son was born with brain damage and I found so many details of this haunting and reminded me of the early days with him for some reason. The rescue dis..."

thanks Cat, for this. It is a too familiar terror and yet something oddly comforting in the recognition one feels in the reading and the discussions of "yes, I've thought that, I've felt that!"


Monica | 17 comments Fever Dream is one of my top favorites from the past few years.


message 19: by Cat (last edited Oct 16, 2019 05:22PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cat | 34 comments OK so when I wrote my comment above about how eerily familiar it all was related to parenting a child in the NICU and with brain damage, I hadn't read all of the preceding comments about people not connecting to it. I really understand and agree with someone who said sometimes polarizing books require prior life experiences, or prior feelings to connect to it, and it's not about being sophisticated or whatever. I also know that not everyone who had a child with brain damage would have connected to this book.
What really made it so eerie to me was how David was transmigrated and she didn't know where he was. So our baby was healthy when I was pregnant and then had a major hemorrhage in utero at term and I remember in the early days in the NICU when they said he had extensive brain damage, and he started opening his eyes but he had a stroke in his vision center so his eyes were just going all over the place. I remember thinking distinctly, who is this person behind these eyes now? It was like I didn't know where that healthy boy had gone. It was hard to connect the baby in the NICU, the one who may never walk, talk, swallow, breathe, with the baby I had been expecting and had created in my head. I think that is really at the heart of childhood illness. The child you've been expecting, the child you've been dreaming of, sometimes for years and years (sometimes we imagine being parents for years before we ever have kids), there's this feeling that child has migrated somewhere and almost been replaced. Also the "new" David was almost like Death itself. He kept "pushing" animals, encouraging them to die, burying them...so weird. It's like your child has been replaced by this horrible illness inhabiting their body, the spectre of Death. It's horrible to feel that way because a very sick child is still the same person. A child with brain damage is the same child as before, just now, they are injured. It's just a totally weird feeling, especially when the injury is in such an important part of who they are (the brain) and she wrote it down. I didn't even really have words for it before I read this book. FYI our son is doing really well at a year old, just language and cognitive delays. He may have mild to moderate intellectual disability, but he's beating all their prognoses for how extensive his brain damage is!


message 20: by Cat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cat | 34 comments I also know this is not at all a universal experience for parents of sick/injured kids, which actually made the book even more valuable for me. That she got my totally weird and unique eerie experience. An experience I'm almost ashamed to admit! Because my son is still himself, but there's that feeling when they're irreparably hurt that they've been transmigrated somewhere.


Elizabeth Arnold | 697 comments Cat wrote: "OK so when I wrote my comment above about how eerily familiar it all was related to parenting a child in the NICU and with brain damage, I hadn't read all of the preceding comments about people not..."

That's so beautifully put, thank you so much for sharing. Big hugs to you, I'm so glad he's doing well now.

I can relate to some of this, as my daughter has neurological issues, most of which did not show up till she was three. I look back at old pictures and videos and mourn that girl who left us. I didn't relate that experience to this book while I was reading, but now I can definitely see how powerful it is to look at the story that way. Losing a child is the most painful experience in the universe, and in its own way this sort of loss is almost as profound.


message 22: by Cat (last edited Oct 16, 2019 05:41PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cat | 34 comments Exactly! I'm so sorry about your daughter's neurological issues. What you wrote about mourning that girl who left is exactly what I meant and related to about Fever Dream.
I feel like everything I've read since having him, I've been trying to squash into the lens of how to relate it to that experience, (I guess that's just part of processing it) and this one actually fit in a super creepy eerie way!


Lauren Oertel | 784 comments Thanks for sharing your experience, Cat. Even though I'm not a parent, this book worked for me as well. The reading experience felt like I was personally in a fever dream and the creepiness stayed just on the right side of the edge for me to enjoy it and not have trouble sleeping. I think I had read that it was related to environmental issues before I read it, so that likely helped frame the situation for me.


message 24: by Bob (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bob Lopez | 328 comments Read it for a second time and was just as breathless and blown away as I was the first. The environmental terror of it was a lot more pronounced to me this time as we'd already had those discussions a few years ago, and the idea that this was a novel more about environmentalism than body horror was really cemented this time.


Jason Perdue | 591 comments With my daughter 3,000 miles away at college thru the holidays, possibly all the way until summer break, during a pandemic, this idea of rescue distance has been on my mind.

https://twitter.com/mdbell79/status/1...


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