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Love Today: Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 10, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"The course of true love is bumpy indeed for the couples in Love Today (Simon & Schuster), Maxim Biller's first story collection to be translated into English. Set mainly in Germany and the Czech Republic, with side trips to Tel Aviv, France, and New York, these wry, elliptical narratives chart the passions and the discontents of men and women who vanish from each other's lives and reappear without notice, and whom Biller often catches at the moment of confronting the mystery of what keeps them together, or what has driven them apart. In "Seven Attempts at Loving," after a long separation childhood sweethearts meet by accident at a tram stop in Prague; in "Baghdad at Seven-Thirty," a man and his much younger girlfriend watch war news coverage in a bar, straining for a glimpse of the man's American soldier son, about to be deployed to Kuwait; and in "The Architect," an artist named Splash and his Lebanese lover distract themselves from their problems by spying on a neighbor. Deceptively transparent, Biller's brief, gossamer fictions may remind you of narrative poems in their ability to simultaneously elude and haunt you." -- Francine Prose, O Magazine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Maxim Biller was born in Prague in 1960, and emigrated with his family to Germany in 1970. He is the author of three previous story collections and two novels, Esra and The Daughter. In 1999 he received the Theodor-Wolff-Preis, one of the highest awards for journalists in Germany. Two of his short stories have appeared in The New Yorker. Maxim Biller lives in Berlin.

Anthea Bell (translator) is the recipient of the Schlegel Tieck Prize for translation from German, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize in 2002 for the translation of W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz, and the 2003 Austrian State Prize for Literary Translation. She lives in Cambridge, England.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416572651
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416572657
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,617,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joe Pierre on May 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I came upon this lean collection of short stories by Maxim Biller after reading Francesca Mari's review of the book in The New Republic in which she contrasted Biller with Raymond Carver. No doubt, Biller's style is spare -- with 27 stories spanning just over 200 pages, most of these little portraits would right qualify as "sudden" fiction. But it's not the brevity or simplicity that marks Biller's style, it's that for a collection of "love stories," his tales and characters are stripped of any apparent remnant of emotion or sentimentality that are more typical of the kind of characters that inhabit Carver's world (but I'll leave the Carver contrasts to Ms. Mari in TNR), or arguably the real world.

As the title suggests, most of these stories are portraits of love, or rather relationships. Invariably, the 20-to-40-something male and female protagonists seem to have some history of love (though we're never privy to that foundation) that has gone horribly awry, such that they're left trapped in some kind of distorted version of love. They can't seem to love without hurting, and often intentionally. And it's not that the lovers are saddled with hardship -- by all accounts they mostly seem to be yuppies living in urban Germany -- it's more that they're victims of themselves, having become empty, barren, and lost. They don't seem to be trying, or they're beyond trying. Yet they go on in their self-destruction, bouncing back and forth in love-hate ambivalence, without seeming too much to care. As a reader trying to make sense of it, there's a fair amount of time spent vacillating between, "Do these guys love each other ...or hate each other?" Almost all of Biller's characters seem sentenced to live in this grey zone.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R Candlewood on July 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I first saw the story "The Mahogany Elephant" in The New Yorker and was amazed by Biller's insight and precise rendering of the tricks and currents of modern love. I flipped back to the start of it a few times just to burn his name into my head so I would remember to buy the book when it came out.

And the book is no disappointment. Biller is sharp, almost surgical in his spare portrayal of relationships. Any reader can recognize moments they've lived themselves -- except with a new understanding from getting the perspective of Biller's all-seeing eye. Not every story coheres; at times the emotional distance keeps you from connecting with the characters. But many of the stories will just blow you away, and collectively, they have real power. You realize you're in the hands of a master, that his apparently simple writing is anything but, and that Biller not only sees but understands.

A great debut. Can't wait for more!
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