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SEEING RED by Lina Meruane
Translated by Megan McDowell
From its opening scene, it’s clear that Seeing Red is a book of intense, visceral physicality. Lina, who greatly resembles the author in almost every way, is struck by a sudden ocular haemorrhage while attending a party in New York. Her vision is clouded by blood, trapping her in a world of opaque red. Meruane describes the incident in minute, stomach-churning detail, setting the tone for all that follows.
Drawing from the author’s own experience, Seeing Red is a uniquely perceptive and convincing exploration of the way in which our relationships change with those around us, not to mention ourselves, when a fundamental aspect of our being suddenly changes. Lina becomes despotically reliant on her boyfriend, Ignacio, while also craving his touch. Through sex she seeks to fill the sensory vacuum. On a trip home to Chile, she struggles to navigate her mother’s guilt and neuroses while also obsessing over her medical options. Lina despairs that she might not regain her eyesight. She contemplates suicide. She agrees to surgery.
Meruane never relents from the obsessive anatomical gaze, without care for any queasiness on the reader’s part. It’s like watching those pimple-popping Youtube videos. Gross but riveting.
Seeing Red by Lina Meruane (Tr. Megan McDowell)
Deep Vellum, 2016