Combining the gritty surrealism of David Lynch with the explosive interior meditations of Clarice Lispector, the stories in Elvira Navarro's Rabbit Island traverse the fickle, often terrifying terrain between madness and freedom
In Elvira Navarro’s story collection Rabbit Island , dreams and reality blur. The stories are surreal and disorienting, exploring dark and strange corners of the mind ... Of the collection’s eleven stories, the first fits in a realistic mode, but the rest bend the rules of everyday experiences ... The stories are nightmarish, full of people struggling fruitlessly in bad jobs, strained relationships, and inexplicable circumstances ... Navarro’s characters experience fear, regret, and anxiety about a world that’s slipping out of control. Those who attempt to change, or even understand, their environments come to bad ends. Short, declarative sentences that come one after another make the unbelievable seem real. As befits the book’s mood, Navarro resists easy endings, often leaving her characters still struggling, or even in more precarious positions than where they began ... Full of colorful, precise descriptions and sharp insights into the mind and body, Rabbit Island is inventive and atmospheric, arising where the everyday world ends and dreams begin.
The structuralist literary critic Tzvetan Todorov defined 'the fantastic' as a literary genre that hesitates between psychological and supernatural explanations to explain extraordinary occurrences, and Navarro’s work often lives and flourishes in this open space of uncertainty ... The stories in Rabbit Island are beautiful, disquieting, and somewhat unhinged. They are the sort of stories whose narrative logic often defies easy categorization, even as their emotional spell lingers long after reading, like particularly vivid dreams.
... haunting ... One thing that distinguishes Navarro in this genre of social nightmare fiction is that her central characters are almost entirely women — all smart and strong but deeply flawed, and more human for it. For another, she is a master anatomist of class and, particularly, money — both its power and the maddening indignity of its lack ... Like the best work of our modern satirists and fabulists, none of Navarro’s stories is particularly easy to read...But even Navarro’s darkness offers at least a bit of light, however unnatural or perverse.