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Brief Encounters with Che Guevara

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2007

    Inclues one of the best short stories I've ever read

    Mr. Fountain's prose is original and crystal-clear, with beautiful phrasings that contribute greatly to the impact of the writing. The first story in the collection--'Near-Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera'--was my favorite, and one of the two or three best short stories I've ever read. The fact that the ending, which should have been a joyous outcome for the protagonist, was instead a source of infinite despair, not only for the character but for all of mankind, was a big part of the genius of the story. 'The Good Ones Are Already Taken' seemed weaker, and I thought perhaps Mr. Fountain is one of those male writers who cannot portray female characters with the same depth of character as the males, but he proved me wrong in 'The Lion's Mouth' and 'Fantasy for Eleven Fingers', which is written as a historical account and almost had me convinced that it had happened. The story that gives the collection its title also seemed weaker to me, perhaps because it lacked the moral confusion of most of the other stories, but all stories are written with an incredible adroitness, creating the 'orgasmic perfection' attributed to Tiger Woods in one of the stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2006

    The Very Fine Art of Short Story Writing: Ben Fountain Arrives

    One hint that a writer of short stories or novellas or even full novels for that matter is the sense given to the reader that all of the information is so solidly shared that the writer must be speaking from autobiographical stance. Yet all we gather from the brief jacket bit about Ben Fountain is that he has won some impressive literary awards, is editor of Southwest Review, and lives in Texas with his little family! There is nothing to suggest a world traveler who has grown into the soil of the various parts of the world he molds into his stories. We are left with the conclusion that Fountain is simply a brilliant writer - and that is even more impressive. 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?') he follows a bumbling golf pro whose sad life catches up with him in Myanmar he takes us back to the turn of the 20th century to uncover a child piano prodigy who is able to play a Fantasy for piano written by a pianist who shared her deformity of having eleven fingers he deals with a couple who must cope with the husband's 'co-marriage' to a Haitian voodoo goddess and he obsesses on tales of encounters with the ever-popular Che Guevara. With each story he transports us wholly to the place of action and the interstices of the minds of the character he paints. Though this reader has not been to Haiti, Sierra Leone or Myanmar to check the reality of Fountain's prose descriptions there, the world of music for the piano is close enough to have profound respect for his writings about piano technique and music history and Vienna. Fountain MAKES us believe his stories, tales that are more like histories than fiction, so well drawn are they. Here is a writer of inordinate gifts. We can only hope he is busy at work crafting a novel to see how well his brief stories can be transported into extended form. Ben Fountain is most assuredly an author to watch! Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2014


    Wonderfully written collection of short stories. Especially impressive is the author's ability to make the reader feel they are a part of the story too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2011

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