How I Came to Know Fish

Overview

The short stories in this collection memorialize Pavel's childhood in Czechoslovakia. His Jewish father was an enthusiastic fishermanwho acquired his own fish pond, which was confiscated by the Nazis, who then sent him and his two oldest sons to a concentration camp. Ota, too young to work in the camps, remained with his gentile mother, avoiding starvation by poaching fish reserved for the Wehrmacht.
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Overview

The short stories in this collection memorialize Pavel's childhood in Czechoslovakia. His Jewish father was an enthusiastic fishermanwho acquired his own fish pond, which was confiscated by the Nazis, who then sent him and his two oldest sons to a concentration camp. Ota, too young to work in the camps, remained with his gentile mother, avoiding starvation by poaching fish reserved for the Wehrmacht.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his epilogue the Czech author The Death of Beautiful Deer admits that these poignant sketches about his childhood were written after he was hospitalized for a mental breakdown. The hurried, tremulous quality of the prose suggests his emotional turmoil, but perhaps it is a result instead of a desire to capture his memories as they tumbled forth. We are introduced to a charming Middle European cast: his father, the top Elektrolux salesman in Czechoslovakia and an avid fisherman; his mother, whose dreams of a vacation in Italy are dashed when her husband buys a stocked carp pond instead; the lethargic, beautiful wife of the Elektrolux firm's director. Most stories revolve around the escapades of the narrator's father and his passion for fishing, which he imparts to his son. Pavel's love for nature is evident in his beautiful descriptions of bucolic prewar Czechoslovakia, which capture the intensity of childhood experience. The mood darkens as the Jewish family is doubly menaced by the Nazi invasion. Pavel's father and older brothers are sent to concentration camps, to return after the war, forever changed. This affecting book was published posthumously in Europe after the author's death in 1973. July
Library Journal
Several of these interconnected, intensely poignant stories evoke the author's comic fishing trips with his charming father, a champion traveling salesman and avid fisherman. Other pieces evoke the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. In ``The Death of Beautiful Deer,'' the father poaches a deer to give his sons a last good meal before their departure to a concentration camp. In another story, before he is himself deported, the father again risks his life to fish for carp in a pond that as a Jew he no longer owns. This first English translation of Pavel's work captures the magic of his touchingly poetic, bittersweet tales about the joys of fishing, the beauty of nature, and the strength we derive from it. Recommended for public libraries and libraries collecting East European fiction.-- Marie Bednar, Pennsylvania State Univ. Libs., University Park
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811211659
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 5/28/1991
  • Pages: 150
  • Product dimensions: 5.39 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.47 (d)

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