“Passengers” by Daniela Sanhueza: on the verge of a crisis or an outbreak

With subtlety, for no apparent reason, just a few clues delivered drop by drop in careful descriptions, Daniela Sanhueza’s stories catapult us right into the thick of the action. In the middle of a painting that doesn’t finish putting together until the last word.

The characters in these stories are teetering on the brink of a crisis or epidemic. Sometimes, in some of these, those margins get exceeded. In others, they are evoked in search of explanations and meanings. And sometimes, what is coming is perceived and is known to be inevitable.

It is no small thing to say in front of a first collection of short stories. But that’s not enough, if they don’t have a structure and a convincing voice. And I think the virtue that the author possesses to create an extraordinary set is something that I realize now, we have forgotten or stopped looking at. Sanhueza has an exuberant imagination. Not imagination leading to crazy stories or surprising endings. In these cases the effort is considerable, the seams are visible. I mean that imagination that highlights certain details, twists, thoughts and looks.

Inside a taxi, a woman listens disinterestedly as the driver takes her to a small hotel in a coastal city. Once we enter her room, in her memories and observations we find a weight and an unease: «… Always there, with the corner of my eye, something shapeless, intangible, obscure crept in.».

A man poses as a detective policeman to settle accounts with the past. Versions of a past that contradicts and collides through a tense conversation. The author thus introduces us to the story and to the doubt: “The house was white and elegant, even if perhaps less large than I imagined”.

Another woman prepares her suitcase inside the small apartment she shares with her partner. A new mother embarks on a journey with her sister and her mother, who want to support her as they see her consumed by raising an unbearable child.

In “Fiction”, an acting student and a group of film students get together to celebrate the award they received for making a short film. After some walking, the path subtly begins to crumble, as illusions begin to do at that age.

In Juan Fernández, a boy travels the island with his mother and recreates the activities he loves before his imminent move to the mainland.

A young woman writes down her daily commitments for eight days, the maximum time that sperm can last inside her body: «The article says eight days maximum, and under optimal conditions, of course, which never ceases to surprise her . She had never thought, after a love affair, of the spermatozoa left in her body, and now, with a mixture of laughter and revulsion, she begins to imagine them: white, slippery and flexible like little fish moving in all directions, desperate , tirelessly in search of their little sun.”

Any quotation or summary leaves us with a dull feeling about what we feel when reading each of these stories, since we cannot anticipate here the unexpected places to which the author takes us.

The voices that inhabit each of the stories are unique and individual, creations that live only in that narrative unity. We do not find a homogeneous or repetitive voice throughout the book. Sanhueza manages to hide the author, and those who speak are the characters of him, mostly women who are trying from their privacy to overcome this crisis and give meaning to their existence. They are the passengers who board for a moment in the book’s journey and then get off to make way for the next.

Data sheet:

passengers. Daniela Sanhueza Caba.
Editors Rel. 107 p.

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  • The content expressed in this opinion column is the sole responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of The meter.

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