My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A dark, twisted dive into the fever-induced memories of a mother. I struggled to understand this strange narrative, but found myself unable to put it down.
At just 151 pages Fever Dream is barely more than a novella, but each sentence is so intense that reading it is a visceral experience. The entire book is a single conversation between Amanda, a lady who lies dying in a rural hospital clinic, and David, a boy who is not her son. The relationship between them is strange, and it emerges that he is the son of another lady, Carla, that Amanda met while on holiday.
David presses Amanda to recall scenes from the recent past, and recount the actions which led her to the clinic. He asks for more details, and seems to have heard her story before. What he is looking for in the sinister scenes is never made clear.
The book is without doubt very strange. It reminded me vaguely of Kafka’s style of writing, but really it is quite unique. Even days after finishing it I still cannot say what actually happened, but it is haunting the edges of my dreams.
The main theme throughout the story seems to be maternal love and connection. Amanda is deeply attached to her daughter Nina, while Carla is afraid of David – seeing him as only part of her son, the other part having been lost to some strange rite when he was younger. Throughout the story Amanda refers to the ‘rescue distance’ which is how far away from Nina she feels safe to be, a distance which is constantly being recalculated depending on circumstances. It is only when she neglects this measurement that things seem to go wrong.
Despite not understanding what happened I do have a curious sense of satisfaction in having read this book. The lingering unsettling feeling speaks volumes of the power of words, even when you do not fully understand what is being said.