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READ El mal de la taiga 107 Ú A fairy tale run amok The Taiga Syndrome follows an unnamed female Ex Detective as she searches for a couple who has fled to the far reaches of the earth A betrayed husband is convinced by a brief telegram that his second ex wife wants him to track her down that she wants to be found He hires the Ex Detective who sets out with a tranA fairy tale run amok The Taiga Syndrome follows an unnamed female Ex Detective as she searches for a couple who has fled to the far reaches of the earth A betrayed husband is convinced by a brief telegram that his second ex wife wants him to t. We all carry a forest inside us‘ This is not a fairy tale detective’ an unnamed man seeking out his second wife tells the narrator early on in Cristina Rivera Garza’s eerily exuisite nightmare of a novel The Taiga Syndrome The man has a penchant for leading women by the elbow to corral them without consent into the confines of his ego and is bewildered that his second wife has run off with a man into the vast wilderness of the taiga Taiga noun also known as a boreal forest or snow forest is a biome characterized by coniferous forests consisting mostly of pines spruces and larchesTaiga Syndrome noun ‘ inhabitants of the Taiga begin to suffer terrible anxiety attacks and make suicidal attempts to escape’‘ We all carry a forest inside us yes’ the narrator later says meaning a wilderness we escape into or escape from This includes the wife who fills diaries with bland entries but occasionally uestions what it is a bird can see when they look into a window The wife has left leaving a breadcrumb trail of postcards with lines like “WHAT ARE WE LETTING IN WHEN WE SAY GOODBYE” scrawled in ‘ the urgency of capital letters’ Thus begins a journey to find the missing woman Along the way the narrator detective finds herself immersed in a haunting fairy tale in which language love and leaving are all menacing eyes peering out from the dark forests of the taiga to watch the oppressive ways that capitalist power corrupts controls and consumes us Here is a detective noir with surrealism filling in for the usual motif of fog creating a metaphorical fog out of language and the various ways storytelling and society is framed through power constructs Unsettling in the best of ways The Taiga Syndrome is a stunning achievement of atmosphere and language that marvelously blends fairy tale with social commentary to uestion the choice of being confined in oppressive structure or lost forever in a metaphysical wilderness And everywhere are wolves The Taiga Syndrome takes the baton from the rich history of Latin American literature and races with it deep into the forest like a cross country runner Brazo’s Bookstore provides a blurb noting that the novel feels like ‘ A detective novel directed by David Lynch narrated by Bolaño’ and comparisons to Juan Rulfo as well as undercurrents of Silvina Ocampo and Leonora Carrington are easy enough and possibly lazy to make The book is arguably all of these like Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo both deal with a location where the inability to leave accrues with each page like an hourglass running out of sand yet comparisons distract from the fact that this is an entirely original piece combining these elements with those of fairy tales Hansel and Gretel as well as Little Red Riding Hood are directly called out and analyzed in the narrative to create an engrossing work of feminist and social symbolism that is way than the sum of its parts The playfulness of archetypal motifs and symbols from both fairy tales and noirs being thrown into a linguistic blender is part of one of the book’s most entertaining methods of building atmosphere everything is familiar yet horrifyingly alien all at once ’Breathlessly’ is an adverb with rhythm’The book is nearly a sensory overload of sights sounds smells and ineffable anxiety all emanating from static words on the page so potent that they bear a resemblance to how silent trees in a dark forest can culminate in a pitch of implacable terror once you begin to uestion what lurks in their shadows Cristina Rivera Garza employs language to its maximum potential with minimal strokes that take unexpected turns The language is sparse yet dense and flows almost like poetry instead of prose There are incomplete sentences repetitions of phrases and musings that loop and swirl as if to elude the reader There is also an astonishing use of language that makes the narration feels unstuck from linear time Not only is the book told in a non linear fashion but also sentences elouently push and pull the reader back and forth on the timeline leaving the reader unsettled yet unjarred Time it seems is one of the many social constructs being called into uestion by the novel It is told from a present long after the events have unfolded and sometimes within the span of a single sentence places you in the past uses future tenses to explain what will happen and then seamlessly returns to past tense verbs The effect I imagine is much poetically visible in the original Spanish but still shines in translation Being a translated work actually adds to the noir fog of the narrative in an interesting way as translation is a major theme in the novel The detective is accompanied on her journey by a translator several archetypal characters here as well as the husband and vanished wife though the principal characters have a far emotionally complex execution than simple archetypal stand ins and muses on the concept that they are ‘ tongue to tongue a speaker of their tongue who would translate everything into my tongue’ The pair uickly realize that her ‘tongue’ is also not the ideal mode of communication between them and they settle for a neutral third language in which they are both comfortable speaking The wonderful translation by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana also serves as a reminder that we like the detective are receiving the narrative through a filter of translated language In fact the various filters of reality like the fog in a noir become a constant reminder of how we view the world through windows of social constructsWindows figure as a prominent motif in the novel what we see from the safety of looking out and what sees us in the wild looking in ‘ The rectangle is often a sacred shape’ the unnamed detective says the window that encloses boxes us in creates a fallible framework to enforce easy comfort There is freuent mention of people being viewed through windows literal or metaphorical the runaway couple viewed as outside the “window” of the small village society even the sex workers are said to be appraised by men through a viewing window Throughout the novel the narrator is pulled from the comforts of a modern society a society led by the elbow uite literally by the grip of obdurate masculine enforced constructs and into an untamable wilderness where all the filters of “normalcy” fail to rationalize what she is to find ‘ It is difficult to describe what is impossible to imagine’ she repeats multiple times as the impossible becomes the unsettling reality that the narrator attempts to comprehend Wolves might simply be feral children miscarriages might become a fairy tale menagerie impossibility might stare you in the face until the window of normalcy shatters ‘ But what is money even worth in the middle of a boreal forest A mere hallucination’The windows keep out violence and viscerality but also keep us couched in blandness as we submit to a capitalist system that thrives on our complicity Even in the Taiga the power system exists The narrator visits the local wealthy businessman who feared the missing wife and her male companion as spies intent on dethroning him from power when they came to town Through his window of social constructs he viewed any ‘other’ any ‘outsider’ as a threat or possibly a spy for a rival lumber company He has become another of the figurative “wolves” in the story so corrupted by money that he’s cut off humanity in fear of someone plotting to hurt his wealth Even the wilderness is being leashed by capitalism The narrator detective muses on the livelihood of the lumberjacks and how their profits have tainted the purity of the chaotic forests They enter the forests for their ‘ daily survival’ and therefore ‘ the needs of the lumberjacks had in turn brought cooks and merchants usury and sex’ Though this isn’t used as an argument against modernization per say it does show us how society tames us and cuts down our inner wilderness like a lumberjack clearing a forest The trees agree with me In lumberjack’s pockets in their gold teeth in the chains that they wore around their neck in their desire to leave forever in their plans to return to some version of home that grew remote the they thought about it Money shines with the patina of something sad or impossible Something that should be condemned’ The strive for money takes us further from nature into a prison of oppression and control where we can only look back out a window and fear the wilderness we have come from Perhaps the most important use of framing comes from the way that instead of crafting the novel as a noir or fairy tale Garza uses the elements of genre to frame her story The elements are there most notably the missing woman run off into the woods that seems to bridge both genres Folklorist Jack Zipes once wrote that fairy tales are ‘ a means to conuer the terrors of mankind through metaphor’ Garza’s work aligns with this theory while occasionally feeling like it is the reversal by emphasizing the terrors of mankind as a metaphor for creating a fairy tale The detective often reflects on the elements of fairy tales and how they interact with her own narrative examining how the lack of food caused by social factors and oppression during the time the Grimm Brothers wrote Hansel and Gretel set the stage for the step mother abandoning the children in the woods to not have to feed them any The narrator suggests that framing the story as a cruel stepmother instead of the children’s actual mother was shielding readers from the harsh reality that parents under duress might actually sacrifice their children for self preservation The forest is a cruel place and even if we dress the human soul up in polite society that violent wilderness is still inside Garza has created a world with wolves lurking in all the shadows and reminds us that some wolves wear human skins In addition to framing the story in genre elements Garza plays with a mixture of art forms by providing a suggested listening playlist in lieu of a soundtrack While the playfulness and vivid imagery of the language already create a very sensory experience combining it with music further amplifies the impression of immersing yourself in the forests of the Taiga ‘ All traveling’s a way to imagine having a home to leave or return to’ writes poet Brenda Shaughnessy This line would make a fitting epigraph for The Taiga Syndrome a novel of people escaping Escaping life society reality fleeing further and further disappearing and This is a novel about running hiding searching about love and about the end of falling out of love This brilliant little novel put out but the wonderful Dorothy Publishing Project check them out easily one of the coolest small presses out there is a surrealist romp that tantalizes as much as it terrorizes This book creeps towards the precipice of trauma like dreams where you find yourself unable to scream and by the time reality begins to crumble the notion between what is real and what isn’t seems completely beside the point Garza doesn’t just play with genre she reconfigures them into a cocktail of her own design that you’ll be drunk off long after having drank the last drop⅘‘ Look at this your knees They are used for kneeling upon reality also for crawling terrified You use them to sit on a lotus flower and say goodbye to the immensity’

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Red Riding Hood haunt the Ex Detective's uest though the lessons of her journey are experiential than moral that just as love can fly away sometimes unloving flies away as well That sometimes leaving everything behind is the only thing left to. A strangely surreal take on the Latin American detective novel Cristina Rivera Garza takes us to a distant land—or is it a state of mind—creating in this short novella an enigmatic narrator whose company one will be loathe to leave Like The Iliac Crest which was released in English last year I don't care where Rivera Garza is taking me I will willingly followExpanded review can be found here

Cristina Rivera Garza à 7 READ

El mal de la taigaRack her down that she wants to be found He hires the Ex Detective who sets out with a translator into a snowy hostile forest where strange things happen and translation betrays both sense and one's senses Tales of Hansel and Gretel and Little. Was this a book I read or a dream I had With echoes of Ice Twin Peaks and several Grimm fairytales The Taiga Syndrome feels like Martin MacInnes' Infinite Ground as rewritten by Carmen Maria Machado It follows a woman identified in the blurb and only in the blurb as 'the Ex Detective' as she tries to track down a couple who have gone deliberately missing in the Taiga The Taiga – always capitalised here – is Earth's largest biome a coniferous forest that spans continents The narrator accompanied by a translator visits a strange village; she doesn't find what she is looking for Scenes often seem to repeat or loop with minor adjustments to the perspective Everything is displaced Something like that yes An arrow plunged into the left shoulder A hole And suddenly that moment produced the window And the window produced the spectator And those three elements together made the romance real The passion Someone longed for a freedom that was really an infernal abyss Someone placed hands now motionless on the window Someone who wanted to escape but couldn't escape and could only watch The story is broken down into pieces of story and then into fragments of language The Taiga Syndrome in the end is not so much a novel as a disassembling of the novel The fact that it concludes with a suggested soundtrack only seems to emphasise this – it's like the essence of the story has now become something so ephemeral it can only be communicated through music Accordingly the book leaves you with little than a vague unsettling feeling of hauntedness the characters seeming to fade out of existenceTinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr