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The Survival League (New Croatia) Paperback – August 1, 2005
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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The first story the reader finds is narrated from someone working in a café who has a boss that doesn’t like punks. Now I don’t mean he is an older man who sees all kids as ‘punks’ but those who specifically were trying to follow the Punk Culture. As the story was dated to the 80’s, it would seem to be a story that could almost fit in any town anywhere in the world. It could have happened here in my hometown, as we had a punk scene and there were those who fought against it. To each his own, but the story is titled, “The First and Last Punker” (p. 15) and it doesn’t seem to want to make any sort of political or cultural statement. It just seemed an interesting tale for someone who was slinging coffee and dealing with a weird boss.
That was the way I felt about the rest of the stories. There was something interesting in each one, but they didn’t seem so uncommon. There was an introduction to “How I Transcended Trichinosis” (p.33) that left me feeling like I was about to read something horrible about sickness, but the story was a short visit in a salon to get a pompadour haircut. The narrator did have some weird things happening with his head that drew attention, but nothing else came of it. It was kind of funny, but I didn’t really laugh out loud. The way most of the stories in this book left me.
There was a bit of a supernatural element in “The Man from Bezdan on the Danube” (p.77), where a character who seems normal ends up either being a ghost or just disappears into the water in a strange way. That story was also a little creepy with an overabundance of kittens being killed in a less than humane manner. That may have just been a cultural statement, but I have run into a few people in my life who have disposed of animals in a less than humane manner. Maybe that was the statement of the book; no matter how different our histories or cultures, we all are similar in how we act toward the world and those within. Maybe not, it didn’t seem that deep.
As I love reading stories, this book wasn’t too bad, and I don’t believe it was a waste of time, but I wouldn’t say I was really moved. It was well written and I enjoyed some of it, but it wasn’t a super page-turner. It was an interesting insight into the author, who is only a couple years older than me, but who grew up almost on the other side of the world. That is what I believe I will appreciate the most about this work, the insight into another person’s mind and the stories they want to tell from where they are from.
You'll think Kurt Vonnegut, you'll think Milan Kundera, yet Gordon Nuhanovic's voice and sensibility are uniquely his own - ironic, biting, funny and sweet all at once.
The book includes a brief history of Croatia and notes by the author about the genesis of each story. Nuhanovic's resume encompasses stints as a war reporter and a member of a punk band. Read the stories and that mix will make sense.