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Flights of Love: Stories Hardcover – October 2, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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The Underground Railroad
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Flights of Love sees Bernhard Schlink build on the success of his international bestselling debut novel, The Reader, with a clutch of short stories that tell of the variety of love, distilled into seven splinters of narrative. The pick of the seven, the opening "Girl with Lizard," depicts a remote male character who fixates on a painting of his father's, which he is to discover, like his father, has a familiarly unsavory past, and which he is impelled to exorcise. In the book's centerpiece, "Sugar Peas," architect and amateur painter Thomas finds that his trio of lovers avenge themselves on his profligacy after he is left wheelchair-bound by an accident. "The Other Man" presents a widower corresponding with his dead wife's unwitting lover, and finding comfort through acquaintance. Less successfully, "The Circumcision" sees the pretext of a German man and his New York Jewish girlfriend to ponder huge, chewy rhetoric on the problems of reconciling the past, almost absentmindedly concocting an improbable denouement. Schlink too often presents scenarios rather than scenes, more intent on dislocated dilemma than language. In keeping with his legal training, he discerns lines of attack more suited to a drama, or perhaps a courtroom drama, than fiction. There can be no doubting Schlink's storytelling acumen or his undertaking to tackle the complicated identity of modern Germany. What is increasingly exposed, though, are the supporting mechanisms that too frequently serve to reinforce, rather than challenge, our assumptions with their didactic contrivance. --David Vincent, Amazon.co.uk

From Publishers Weekly

Schlink's The Reader was a surprise bestseller on these shores, discovered by Oprah and established by word of mouth. The writer's mastery of form, concise yet thorough probing of character, and concern with the moral implications of human behavior are again in evidence in these seven gripping stories. German men are protagonists in each of them, with some traits in common: a need for order, efficiency, respectability and righteousness, and a difficulty in expressing emotion. While the settings are mainly in Germany, two stories take place in North America and one in an unnamed South American country. Though love is the common emotion in each, not a trace of sentimentality mars the tensile energy of the narratives. Instead, Schlink examines the wounds inflicted by history and bitterness, jealousy and regret, neglect and repressed emotions. The penalties of love, and the lack of it, are paid by spouses, lovers, children. "A Little Fling," perhaps the most haunting story in the collection, deals with the legacy of betrayal fostered by the Berlin Wall. The shadow of the Holocaust prevents a man from experiencing love in "Girl with Lizard" and bewilders another young man in "The Circumcision," whose title threatens to remove suspense, but Schlink adds a quietly devastating twist at the end. Despite Schlink's matter-of-fact depiction of events, "The Other Man" and "Sugar Peas" can test credibility, but both stories are anchored in such strikingly portrayed characters that the reader's trust remains strong. The clarity of Schlink's vision and the calm eloquence with which it's expressed make these tales classics of their genre. First serial to the New Yorker.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st American ed edition (October 2, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375420908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375420900
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,655,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on February 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the first book I have read by Bernhard Schlink. Based upon this initial exposure to his work, I look forward to reading other books he has written that are being translated for publication in the USA. "Flights Of Love", is not a collection of sentimental love stories. None of these 7 tales qualify as a Hallmark Card Moment. All 7 stories have males at the center of the issues/conflicts, and the concepts of love that are explored vary widely. Several of the stories are about the lack of love, love that has missed its opportunity because of active or passive neglect.
The situations Mr. Schlink explores are at times extremely volatile. One of the best stories, and the more traditional, centers on a relationship between two young people. Beyond this one fact the author lights a match and holds it precariously close to a very short fuse. The young man is German and Christian, while his girlfriend is Jewish with a family that lives in New York that was directly and savagely victimized by The Holocaust. Fifty years have passed since the end of the war, but time will never heal this wound, and this couple is in the middle of conflicting philosophies. The idea that sons should not be held responsible for their father's or grandfather's sins is an idea that is embraced in theory. However in practice, her family and friends see him as German first just as his family notes she is a Jew, and rapidly wind up in conflict between the necessity of never forgetting, and the feeling that they are forever cursed as Germans. This all sounds very familiar until the boyfriend makes the decision to convert. He also makes a decision to have a procedure that any adult male would visibly wince at the thought of. This decision and the events that follow make the story unique and worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It may be a cliche, but Bernhard Schlink is a master storyteller. These stories surprise and fascinate in the same way as *The Reader*. Schlink creates real characters facing difficult moral and personal issues. His prose style is spare and elegant and he takes up large and important themes. This collection is not to be missed.
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By Leebee on December 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I totally fell in love with this book. I seemed to like each story better than the last.... "Girl With Lizard" would have been my fave though, if I had to pick just one. I definitely plan on recommending this book to friends when they ask me if I have read any good books lately. Don't miss this one! This is one to be read over and over.
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Bernhard Schlink is a German lawyer, and has been both a law professor and judge. I couldn't help but wonder how many of his stories are based on real-life dramas that he witnessed, or read about, that evolved in a courtroom. He has subsequently given up his "day job." His "true calling" appears to be defining the human condition, particularly the contemporary German human condition, without the necessity of referencing a legal benchmark. A Danish friend introduced me to his work some 15 years ago, and in addition to this volume, I've also read The Reader by Schlink,Bernhard. [1999] Paperback and The Weekend (Vintage International); the latter I have reviewed. I am an unabashed admirer of his work.

This is a collection of seven short stories. Some are uniquely rooted in the German experiences; others address universal themes. All pose serious dilemmas, and many feature, like a good jurist, sifting through the facts, what is known, and only what might be reasonably surmised. Some issues truly are "unknowable." And often the author leaves it to the reader to "be the judge."

What did my daddy real do during the war? A universal question, particularly unsettlingly in the German context of the Second World War. In the "re-write" of history weren't all the French in "the Resistance"? The "Girl with Lizard" is a story about a painting that hangs in the father's study. Why is it there, and why is it the one physical possession that the father treasures? His father was a judge in Strasbourg during WW II.
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Format: Hardcover
Schlink seems to ask himself, "To what strange places might love drive a person?" His writing is distinctly un-American: poetic, deeply intimate, concise, and above all unashamed. The overall effect is provacative and thought provoking. Each story is unique and unattached to the next, but still focuses on the premise of people driven throughout their lives by love. The book shows the many different ways that love can effect a person: in one story, love brings them together, in another drives them apart, in another it causes infidelity, in another it sends a man looking after the man that the dead wife had an affair with. With his Kundera-esque writing style, I was riveted to Schlink's book. Subjects covered: war, religion, art, travel, infidelity, circumcision, lies, sex, falling out of love, family relationships, Jewish prejudice against a German. The "flights" seem unconcious and inevitable, each resulting conflict the believable outcome of the characters personality. Each story flows naturally, and yet, the conflict and resolution are unexpected. If you like this, you may really like "Searching For Intruders" by Byler or "Kissing in Manhatten" by Schlinker.
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