Samantha Schweblin is a Booker Prize shortlisted author whom I am yet to read. I came across this Story on The New Yorker which is translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell. Megan has also translated ‘Things We Lost in Fire’ which is the best short story collection I read last year. I was absolutely thrilled to find this short story. It has completely lived to my expectations.
It is a story of a man who runs a toy store in a small town. His wife helps him with it. They do not have much sales until a man named Enrique visits their store and purchases a model-plane kit.
‘Everyone knew that Enrique Duvel had inherited a lot of money, and also that, though he was sometimes spotted with women, he still lived with his mother. On Sundays, he cruised around the plaza in his convertible, self-absorbed, never looking at or greeting any of his neighbours, and then he’d disappear until the following weekend.’
Enrique is an intriguing character anyhow, that the neighbours whisper about but he comes into the narrator’s sight when it hesitantly enters his store and purchases a model-plane for himself.
A couple of days later the narrator finds him in front of his store in the night. Enrique begs the narrator to let him stay in their house. The next day Enrique chromatically organises the shop, attracting the children and subsequently increasing the sales. The store owners are impressed and they let him stay in the store, buy a bed for him and give him proper meals.
Slowly he starts talking less, gets into fights with children over his toys and hides the ones at the top most shelf so that other kids don’t access them.
As the store owners detect strange things developments in around them, Enrique’s mother drags him out of the store, him scraping on the floor and slaps him hard on the cheek.
There is a slow regressive development of a fully grown man into a child. The story also talks about physical child abuse. The mother refuses to let the boy grown up into the adult or Enrique does not want to let the childhood slip by is unclear but it definitely is an intriguing story. You could never imagine the end until you get there. And when you do, it blows your mind!
I now intend to pick up the ‘Fever Dream’ by the author that’s on my kindle.
Read the short story here
Read the author talking about the story here
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