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Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories

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Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories Cover

ISBN13: 9780060885588
ISBN10: 0060885580
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"The stories in Brief Encounters with Che Guevara are poignant, empathetic, ironic, and, perhaps surprisingly, often funny....Fountain writes in gorgeous sentences that do much of their work with transparency but can also stop you in your tracks. He is a writer of impressive intelligence and range, writing convincingly on subjects from diamond mining to voodoo rituals, and this collection is held together by his unsparing, hopeful, but ultimately deeply sad vision..." Jill Owens, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The well-intentioned protagonists of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara are caught — to both disastrous and hilarious effect — in the maelstrom of political and social upheaval surrounding them. In Near-Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera, an ornithologist being held hostage in the Colombian rain forest finds that he respects his captors for their commitment to a cause, until he realizes that the Revolution looks a lot like big business.

In "The Good Ones Are Already Taken," the wife of a Special Forces officer battles a Haitian voodoo goddess with whom her husband is carrying on a not-entirely-spiritual relationship. And in "The Lion's Mouth," a disillusioned aid worker makes a Faustian bargain to become a diamond smuggler for the greater good. With masterful pacing and a robust sense of the absurd, each story in Brief Encounters with Che Guevara is a self-contained adventure, steeped in the heady mix of tragedy and danger, excitement and hope, that characterizes countries in transition.

Through Fountain's rounded and novelistic prose, these intelligent and keenly observed stories are painted in provocative and vibrant detail across a global canvas. Brief Encounters with Che Guevara marks the arrival of a striking and resonant new voice that speaks adeptly to the intimate connection between the foreign, the familiar, and the inescapably human.

Review:

"Six of these eight debut short stories feature Americans abroad, on modified grand tours stopping in Colombia, Haiti, Myanmar and Sierra Leone. As aid workers, soldiers and hangers-on, they grapple with some of the darkest circumstances in the contemporary world, their struggles made absurd by the ease with which they can and do return home. A few are honorably conflicted, including the NGO worker who betrays her diamond-smuggling lover. Others, including an indolent golfer who sells his soul along with his game, and a writer nursing an obsession with Che Guevara, draw less sympathy. Fountain seems to see both travel and introspection as amoral indulgences, which means there's serious writerly self-hatred here, since those indulgences feed his tales. The stories that avoid moral writhings for postmodern fable are his most memorable. When a Haitian fisherman discovers a drug runners' drop-off and tries to alert the police, only to find them driving shiny new SUVs, he turns next to the village's voodoo revelers — who have better ideas about what to do with the dope. Lively work, with much to detest and much to enjoy." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"For 25 years, American short stories have turned relentlessly inward; it's refreshing how Fountain's stories reach for a broader engagement." Boston Globe

Review:

"All Ben Fountain's stories move like great rivers, broad and calm on their surfaces, but in their depths full of darkness, undertows and invisible complications." Dallas Morning News

Review:

"Politics aside, Fountain should be read for his metaphors and similes....This is why we turn to quality fiction, not for information or ideology, but for a revealing view of the human condition." Miami Herald

Review:

"Eight powerful stories....An impeccable debut collection; if Fountain can keep it up, he's an heir to Paul Theroux." Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Ben Fountain's fiction has appeared in Harper's Magazine, The Paris Review, and Zoetrope: All-Story, and he has been awarded an O. Henry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and other honors. He is the fiction editor of Southwest Review and lives with his wife and their two children in Dallas, Texas.

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Grady, September 20, 2006 (view all comments by Grady)
The Very Fine Art of Short Story Writing: Ben Fountain Arrives

One hint that a writer of short stories or novellas or even full novels for that matter is the sense given to the reader that all of the information is so solidly shared that the writer must be speaking from autobiographical stance. Yet all we gather from the brief jacket bit about Ben Fountain is that he has won some impressive literary awards, is editor of Southwest Review, and lives in Texas with his little family! There is nothing to suggest a world traveler who has grown into the soil of the various parts of the world he molds into his stories. We are left with the conclusion that Fountain is simply a brilliant writer - and that is even more impressive.

Eight stories are served with exquisite writing technique, fastidious attention to detail, and an endless imagination for bizarre events that serve as a stage for characters at once participating in the darker elements of the world's doings while finding some sense of exotica on a planet that has heretofore seemed so blas?. He takes us to Haiti, explores cocaine trafficking there by both the innocent poor folk observers and the corrupt police force; he follows a devoted ornithologist in captivity in Colombia who gains insight into Revolution; he examines a strange relationship between a young lady and her older diamond hunting mate in Sierra Leone ('Being an American these days, that's sort of like being a walking joke, right?'); he follows a bumbling golf pro whose sad life catches up with him in Myanmar; he takes us back to the turn of the 20th century to uncover a child piano prodigy who is able to play a Fantasy for piano written by a pianist who shared her deformity of having eleven fingers; he deals with a couple who must cope with the husband's 'co-marriage' to a Haitian voodoo goddess; and he obsesses on tales of encounters with the ever-popular Che Guevara.

With each story he transports us wholly to the place of action and the interstices of the minds of the character he paints. Though this reader has not been to Haiti, Sierra Leone or Myanmar to check the reality of Fountain's prose descriptions there, the world of music for the piano is close enough to have profound respect for his writings about piano technique and music history and Vienna. Fountain MAKES us believe his stories, tales that are more like histories than fiction, so well drawn are they. Here is a writer of inordinate gifts. We can only hope he is busy at work crafting a novel to see how well his brief stories can be transported into extended form. Ben Fountain is most assuredly an author to watch! Highly recommended.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060885588
Subtitle:
Stories
Author:
Fountain, Ben
Author:
by Ben Fountain
Publisher:
Ecco
Subject:
General
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
August 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.85 in 15.04 oz

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Ecco - English 9780060885588 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Six of these eight debut short stories feature Americans abroad, on modified grand tours stopping in Colombia, Haiti, Myanmar and Sierra Leone. As aid workers, soldiers and hangers-on, they grapple with some of the darkest circumstances in the contemporary world, their struggles made absurd by the ease with which they can and do return home. A few are honorably conflicted, including the NGO worker who betrays her diamond-smuggling lover. Others, including an indolent golfer who sells his soul along with his game, and a writer nursing an obsession with Che Guevara, draw less sympathy. Fountain seems to see both travel and introspection as amoral indulgences, which means there's serious writerly self-hatred here, since those indulgences feed his tales. The stories that avoid moral writhings for postmodern fable are his most memorable. When a Haitian fisherman discovers a drug runners' drop-off and tries to alert the police, only to find them driving shiny new SUVs, he turns next to the village's voodoo revelers — who have better ideas about what to do with the dope. Lively work, with much to detest and much to enjoy." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "The stories in Brief Encounters with Che Guevara are poignant, empathetic, ironic, and, perhaps surprisingly, often funny....Fountain writes in gorgeous sentences that do much of their work with transparency but can also stop you in your tracks. He is a writer of impressive intelligence and range, writing convincingly on subjects from diamond mining to voodoo rituals, and this collection is held together by his unsparing, hopeful, but ultimately deeply sad vision..." (read the entire Powells.com review)
"Review" by , "For 25 years, American short stories have turned relentlessly inward; it's refreshing how Fountain's stories reach for a broader engagement."
"Review" by , "All Ben Fountain's stories move like great rivers, broad and calm on their surfaces, but in their depths full of darkness, undertows and invisible complications."
"Review" by , "Politics aside, Fountain should be read for his metaphors and similes....This is why we turn to quality fiction, not for information or ideology, but for a revealing view of the human condition."
"Review" by , "Eight powerful stories....An impeccable debut collection; if Fountain can keep it up, he's an heir to Paul Theroux."
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