- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Ecco (August 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060885580
- ISBN-13: 978-0060885588
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories Hardcover – August 1, 2006
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The Amazon Book Review
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From Publishers Weekly
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. (Aug.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Tales of Americans subsisting in the third world and discovering new ways to think and behave are commonplace. But Ben Fountain's lively, humorous treatment of his troubled characters earns generous praise. Instead of focusing his deft choices of words and inventive metaphors on a character's internal experience, the author uses his literary prowess to examine the uncomfortable complexities of life outside the United States. He also takes time to portray the "dunes of garbage so rich in colorful filth" on Haitian streets. That may be enough to prove, as the New York Times says, what a "heartbreaking, absurd, deftly drawn" collection this is.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
If those are your kind of storeies, do not buy "Brief Encounters". Fountain's stories are crisp, compelling and often mordantly funny - there's not a wasted sentence, really not a wasted word. And, best of all, THINGS HAPPEN, EVENTS TRANSPIRE, and you turn the pages to see what's going to happen next.
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 blasé. 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?Read more ›
In "Reve Haitien" (originally published in Harper's), a chess-playing Organization of American States observer in Haiti following Aristide's 2004 departure agrees to help a charismatic guerilla member. The plot involves smuggling paintings by Haitian masters to Miami in exchange for cash the guerillas can use to buy arms. The story shares themes with several others in the collection, as the Westerner comes to sympathize with the oppressed native and tried to help. (The main point of interest in the story for me was the paintings, many of which were by artists whom my grandparents collected in the '60s. One minor snag in the plotline is that the paintings are described as being rolled up and hidden in a duffle bag, but most of the paintings by these artists in my grandparents' collection are on solid chipboard and rather harder to convey.)
"The Good Ones Are Already Taken" takes place in North Carolina, but also references Haiti, as a young soldier's wife eagerly awaits the return of her Special Forces husband from Operation Uphold Democracy (1994-95). The husband returns home greatly affected by his interaction with the Haitian spirit world, forcing the wife to work hard to understand. The material is somewhat over the top, but Fountain manages to make it work for the most part.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I don't normally enjoy short stories, but these really drew me in. I was left wishing for more. Each entry was unbelievable and believable at the same time.Published 11 days ago by Barb
Great book of short stories with a themes of rebellion and occupation and captor.Published 11 days ago by Vivian Katz
These stories are quite different. They force the reader to decide the true ending of each story. If you like travel and adventure this book is for you.Published 23 days ago by Janet
I am a writer living in Asuncion, Paraguay. For years, I have been trying to write the Latin American story. Ben Fountain has done it. i envy him. Congratulations. Guido RodriguezPublished 25 days ago by guido rodriguez
A deftly nuanced read on the 3rd world reality! Power vs proletariat with the inevitable consequences!Published 1 month ago by brian r mahany
Short stories that intrigued and amused. Could not wait to read the next one! Wanted more ,sorry when it ended!Published 4 months ago by Lauren G. Wells
It was an eyeopener in regards to how things really work in 3rd world countries, especially when we are "trying to help them">Published 5 months ago by Colette L Swan
Ben Fountain is a talented wordsmith and brilliant storyteller. He once wrote that Americans need to go abroad to grow up - these tales show why. Read morePublished 5 months ago by ViennaMusings