Schweblin's stories have the feel of a sleepless night, where every shadow and bump in the dark take on huge implications, leaving your pulse racing, and the line between the real and the strange blur.
[Schweblin's] new short story collection, Mouthful of Birds, is just as ethereal and bizarre as its predecessor, and it proves that Schweblin is a master of elegant and uncanny fiction ... Schweblin is gifted at treating the otherworldly with a matter-of-fact attitude, writing about the surreal as if it were unremarkable ... Schweblin evokes feelings of dread and existential horror in a way that's deceptively simple. And her writing, beautifully translated by Megan McDowell, is consistently perfect; she can evoke more feelings in one sentence than many writers can in a whole story ... Mouthful of Birds is a stunning achievement from a writer whose potential is beginning to seem limitless.
Childhood, and its contusions, are...the governing preoccupations of the Argentine writer Samanta Schweblin. Her stories are obsessed with notions of purity and danger; with the ways people can be deformed, very early on, in the name of tenderness, teaching and care. All this without a whisper of sentimentality ... to me, her true ancestor could only be David Lynch; her tales are woven out of dread, doubles and confident loose ends ... The new collection is impressive, but it lacks the finish of [her novel] Fever Dream. It contains three perfect stories...three stinkers and a handful of exploratory sketches. There’s a feeling of peeking into Schweblin’s notebook, of watching her early experiments with technique ... These stories spiral into their own circles of madness, but they all belong to the same universe. Odd plot points repeat: mysterious holes in the ground, violence to animals, violence to children, violence to children disguised as animals ... What makes Schweblin so startling as a writer, however, what makes her rare and important, is that she is impelled not by mere talent or ambition but by vision ... Schweblin’s dark farces just might awaken you to some of your own.
Weirdness — or perhaps more accurately, fabulism — is everywhere in contemporary short fiction. But what separates Schweblin from the pack is the firm foot she has planted in frank horror, and her laconic style, expertly translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell ... It [is] this restraint... that mark these 20 stories, causing them to linger in the mind long after their final lines ... Mouthful of Birds is precisely that rare mix: beauty and horror.