It actually felt like autumn this morning. The air was fresh and cool. The fog lingered over the school field. There was a smell of Autumn as I took a walk around the neighbourhood.
Of course it’s all temporary. It’s going to hit 31C later today and it’s already warming up.
But ah, I am glad to be done with summer. Aside from summer produce, it’s not my favourite season.
That’s why I always dive into the spooky reads once September hits. And there have been quite a few so far. Today, I’ve got this book on my mind, although I finished it a few weeks ago.
Little Eyes – Samanta Schweblin
This defies genre. A story about little toys called kentuki. It comes as a crow, dragon, mole, or bunny. It has cameras for eyes, a motor for rolling around. But the weird part is that a stranger controls it. This person is known as the “dweller”. They use their computers to control the kentuki that’s assigned to them. They get to watch and listen to everything that goes on. The kentuki however can’t speak. But some dwellers and keepers manage to communicate eventually.
The “keeper” is the person who buys the kentuki and brings it home. Or maybe someone gave it to them. I mean, I guess it’s meant to be a cute toy. But really it’s all kind of sinister, the thought of someone watching you and your home through the eyes of this toy.
Schweblin is quite good at convincing the reader about the benefits of being a “dweller”. To see the world in a different way. An escape from your life. Like Marvin, a boy in Guatemala, who’s dwelling in a dragon kentuki in Norway. He’s unhappy, his father is always nagging him, and his mother died recently.
Another is a man who buys the kentuki for his son, as his ex-wife wants it for him. But he develops a strange affection for it. His son, meanwhile, hates it.
I’m not sure why anyone would want to buy a kentuki, knowing that someone is there watching. Maybe it’s because it’s a trendy thing at first? Like, everyone has one so I need to have one too. Or it’s out of curiosity? Or they just like being watched?
Little Eyes is written as a series of vignettes. Sometimes a chapter about one dweller. Another chapter is about a keeper. There are many of them around the world. This style of writing might not suit everyone but I enjoyed having a peek into the various lives of characters. But it felt like it lacked something at the end. It has stayed in my mind ever since reading it though, and unsettled me.
Schweblin is definitely good at being unsettling! I had the same reaction — why would anyone, anywhere, get one of these things? But then I admit I also don’t understand why people have things like Google Home and the Alexa device that sits in your house and listens to to, so I suppose I would not have been the target audience of kentuki anyway. 😛
[…] Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin #RIP […]
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