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Brief Encounters with Che Guevara af Ben…

Brief Encounters with Che Guevara (udgave 2007)

af Ben Fountain

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
509845,333 (3.9)26
The well-meaning 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. Ben Fountain's prize-winning debut speaks to the intimate connection between the foreign, the familiar, and the inescapably human.… (mere)
Titel:Brief Encounters with Che Guevara
Forfattere:Ben Fountain
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Nøgleord:fiction, short stories

Work Information

Brief Encounters With Che Guevara: Stories af Ben Fountain


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» Se også 26 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 8 (næste | vis alle)
Hapless blans (whites) discover the bigger world where rare birds, diamonds and revolutionaries twist the moral ground. Intriguing stories with wit and remarkable insight to human nature bent by the power structures of distant times or lands. ( )
  77nanci | Feb 25, 2023 |
These short stories follow people through situations where they find themselves out of their depths -- lost, afraid, the environment and the people around them strange, cynical, unforgiving in casual violence. And yet each and every one of the stories is a distinct gem. Rarely do I finish a book of short stories and can vividly remember the characters, plots and settings of each and every one.

If I were to name my favorite stories, it would be the majority of them: The first, of the kidnapped ornithologist; the woman whose soldier husband comes back with a voodoo wife; the golfer ensnared in Mynamar's dictatorial politics; the poor man caught in Haiti's cocaine ecosystem; and the aid worker forced to face the facts of war in Sierra Leone.

The breadth of settings is held together by the sense of cynical, even ironic morality that undergirds each of these characters. I left each story weirdly satisfied by the way Fountain confronts the world's inhumanity and caprice. And the best part is that he dishes up every word on a pinpoint, his sentences like flecks of paint congealing into a pointillist masterpiece. Every metaphor, simile, line of dialogue felt perfect, and they all amounted to fiction in its highest form. ( )
  Gadi_Cohen | Sep 22, 2021 |
A collection that is very much in the Graham Greene genre of innocent and idealistic Americans caught up in the intricate corruption of third-world countries. Unlike Greene, though, who demonstrated that such naivete, combined with the standard American gung-ho, "get-it-done" mentality, can be dangerous, Fountain offers, in at least a couple of these stories, some hope that the little guy can occasionally score a small-scale victory against the grander forces that usually work against him -- or her, as is the case in "The Lion's Mouth."

Fountain spans the globe - setting his stories in Columbia, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Burma, and Vienna.

These are marvelous stories that deserve all the critical acclaim they have garnered. They go beyond the usual examination of the complexities of relationships to examine the dilemmas people get caught up in when they are faced with untenable political situations in countries where everyone - the government, business leaders, and revolutionaries with hypocritical proclamations of having the people's best interest at heart - are all corrupt, and where all the traditional moral compasses are ignored and forsaken.

It's a complex stew that only the most talented writers, like Greene, can pull off, and Fountain clearly demonstrates he belongs in that company.

These are the kind of thought-provoking stories that make you wonder, "What would I do in such an untenable situation?" As you read "The Lion's Mouth," for example, you can't help but question what you'd do if faced with the same dilemma the protagonist is: protect yourself in a hostile situation where tragedies will continue to play out no matter what you do or risk your life to save a small group of people who will undoubtedly be butchered if you don't intervene.

The stories are filled with plenty of engaging drama and well-developed characters that make them entertaining to read, but they're also the kind of "big think" pieces that make you ponder the world's problems and wonder what you could be doing to address them, and what the consequences may be of our standard complacency toward these seemingly insurmountable issues.

The 8 stories in the collection are:

1. Near-Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera - 31 pp - An absolutely terrific story about an ornithologist (John Blair) studying rare birds in Columbia, who gets captured by communist revolutionaries. It offers a brilliant portrait of the unholy concessions revolutionists make and the way the grand goals of the idealists can never be met once the "realists" sit around a table and broker a deal.

2. Reve Haitien - 19 pp - At the time after Haitian rebels had ousted Aristide, an O.A.S. observer named Mason plays chess with the locals in a park and lets them win. He thinks he's doing a good deed, giving the downtrodden locals a sense of hope and confidence because they've beaten a "blan" (foreigner). But a local man who's a brilliant player beats Mason and realizes what Mason is up to. That man, a former medical student, is now part of a rebel group who wants Mason to help the people in a real way - by working with him to smuggle treasured Haitian paintings out of the country, with the rebels planning to use the proceeds to buy guns. Mason gets caught up in the "dream of doing something real, something worthy."

3. The Good Ones Are Already Taken -- 32 pp - A young wife of a member of the Marine Special Forces unit is eager for her husband to come home from his tour in Haiti, but when he does she discovers he "married" a voodoo goddess. Because he "sleeps" with the goddess on Tuesdays and Saturdays, he can't have sex with her on those nights. She doesn't know what to do, especially because in every other way he treats her even better than he did before. She consults a cousin who is a psychic to get guidance on how to handle the situation.

4. Asian Tiger - 33 pp - Sonny Grous, a has-been golfer, who won a few tournaments on the pro tour in his 20s, becomes the "golf pro" for a resort in Myanmar (the former Burma), where he teaches golf to the generals running the country and serves as a dupe for the American businessman swinging crooked deals with the corrupt generals.

5. Bouki and the Cocaine - 28 pp - A Haitian fisherman, Syto, keeps finding duffel bags of cocaine stowed on the beach by smugglers, using the island as a drop off point as the drugs make their way from Colombia to Miami. First he goes to the local police, who end up with fancy cars after he turns the contraband in. Then he turns to a trusted senator, who uses the stolen goods for equally corrupt gains. When the fisherman finds a stash for the third time, he has to debate what to do with them, because he doesn't want to be stooge, or a "Bouki," in local lore. As he struggles to figure out what to do, the police and the American helicopter patrols are hot on his trail, suspecting he's up to something.

6. The Lion's Mouth - 36 pp - Jill, a relief worker in Sierra Leone, gets caught up with a "blood diamond" merchant and agrees to help him when a European embargo shuts down his exporting operation. She's become sexually involved with the older, unattractive merchant, but has an ulterior motive for helping him out. The sewing co-op she's established to employ local women who've had one of their arms severed by the local rebels is at risk of losing its funding. (There's a powerful image of these women working side by side to do the job one "whole" woman could perform.) When Jill travels to make the exchange of diamonds for cash she encounters another horror - a group of rebels ready to pillage another town and butcher its residents. She is faced with an impossible set of choices: save herself and risk letting these villagers be massacred or put herself at risk to save them and thereby lose the co-op that has created a better life for previous victims of the same violence.

7. Brief Encounters with Che Guevara - 20 pp - A young man who is fascinated with Che Guevara meets, at various stages of his life, people who had contact with the famous revolutionary: the beautiful wife of an academic at the university where his father taught, who may have had an affair with Che in Cuba; a co-worker at a low-paying job who may have been part of the squad that executed Che; the wife of a philandering Haitian doctor who listens to recordings of Che giving speeches that serve as the "music that spoke all the longing and truth and hurt that we couldn't talk about in ordinary conversation"; and a now-crazy man who may have served with Che in the Cuban government, a man the narrator re-visits when Che's remains are found and relocated to Cuba, causing the narrator to ponder Che's legacy: "as life becomes more pleasurable for the rest of us, the poor seem more remote than ever, their appeal to our humanity even fainter."

8. Fantasy for Eleven Fingers --27 pp - A significant departure from the rest of the collection in both setting and period. Instead of the third world in contemporary times, this story takes place in Vienna in the 1800s. Fountain's breadth of knowledge, so impressively displayed with his insights about third world history and politics, is obviously even wider, as this piece demonstrates an equally in-depth knowledge of 19th-century European history and the world - and terminology - of classical music. Two musicians are portrayed - an early 19th century virtuoso with a birth defect - 11 fingers - that enabled him to play a complex piece no other pianist could and a child prodigy born at the end of the century with the same defect and exceptional talent. She may be the only who can perform the piece that made her predecessor famous (the story's title is its name), but she has to contend with an even more ominous challenge than he did -- the rampant anti-Semitism raging across the continent.

( )
1 stem johnluiz | Aug 6, 2013 |
I picked this book off a shelf at our local library because of the title- and am so glad I didn’t pass it up! I was getting ready to put it back on the shelf (since I am generally not a fan of short stories- with a few exceptions) but couldn’t stop browsing it. I brought it to a nearby chair, read the first 2 chapters and checked it out- giddy with joy.

An eclectic mix of quirky and creative slice-of-life short stories set in such diverse geographical settings as Haiti, Columbia, Myanmar, Burma, Sierra Leone...

The book is excellent. Most of the stories (last one doesn't fit) involve Americans who become entangled in situations of political/ cultural struggle in other countries. They end up seeing things differently than they originally anticipated and their character is tested.

The writing is rich in detail yet spare. Recommending it.
( )
  aylin1 | Mar 31, 2013 |
Okay, I chose this based on the review by Malcolm Gladwell of all people, in the New Yorker, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/10/20/081020fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage.... Also based on that review, I started reading Everything is Illuminated... and hated it. ( )
1 stem labontea | Jun 10, 2010 |
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The well-meaning 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. Ben Fountain's prize-winning debut speaks to the intimate connection between the foreign, the familiar, and the inescapably human.

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