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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brief Encounters With Che Guevara

I admit that I bought this book for its lovely cover but Ben Fountain's stories lived up to the jacket's promise. The characters, mostly disillusioned idealists, all struggle to be good: the kidnapped ornithologist, the over the hill golf pro, the American soldier smitten by a goddess who ignores his sex-starved wife, poor fishermen trying to cash in on the drug trade, the aid worker who makes a nasty deal to save lives, the observer who smuggles Haitian art, the brilliant pianist with an extra digit and Che. The protagonists are confounded by the third world as they view it from the flip side. The stories are set in remote places but are mostly about the role America plays in keeping the third world down. The final story, Fantasy For Eleven Fingers,  set in pre-WWII Germany seemed  out of place in this collection but perhaps I'm missing something.
Fountain writes outsider fiction that reminds me a bit of Graham Greene, ironic and compelling.

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