Saturday, March 24, 2018
When it arrived I found a very slim volume of a little over a hundred pages, many of which carry only a few lines of text. The book tells of its teenage narrator, living with his mother in Santiago, invited by his father in the northern city of Iquique to visit him and take a road trip with him. The camanchaca is a low sea fog that is the only source of moisture in the desert. The story is told in fragments as if seen through fog, fragmented, elusive and with its outlines blurred.
I found the narrator a somewhat unappealing character - overweight, with bad teeth, uncertain about life. But the writing is compelling, with a sense of mystery about it, which is never quite solved. A quick, but not necessarily easy, read, which I found myself appreciating very much. The author was born in 1987, so it will be interesting to see what path his writing takes in future.
Camanchaca is translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, and published in 2017 by Coffee House Press.