The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios
First published in 1993, this remarkable collection of four stories launched the career of a masterful writer. In the exquisite title novella, a young man dying of AIDS joins his friend in fashioning a story of the Roccamatio family of Helsinki, set against the yearl...more
The narrator and his friend, Paul, an AIDS patient, spend Paul's last few months constructing an elaborate story about an Italian family in Helsinki and their lives throughout the Twentieth Century--elaborate, but ultimately unfinished.
"The Time I Heard the Private Donald J. Rankin String Concerto with One Discordant Violin, by the American Composer John Morton"
The narrator, visiting a friend in D.C., attends a concert of Vietnam War veterans in a ruine...more
I was browsing the new fiction section at the library and saw a book of short fiction by Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi. I was a little leary when I found they were stories he had written before Pi. The thought crossed my mind that maybe he was just cashing in on his popularity by putting out some old stuff that wasn't that good. I was wrong, though. The stories were very well written and I'm glad I took the chance and checked the book out.
The title story was...more
"Manners of Dying" consists of variations on a single motif, the description of a convicted criminal's last hours before his execution. Each one is written in the form of a letter to the prisoner's mother from the warden of a correctional institution.
The details that are catalogued include the man's last meal, whether he ate it, how much time he spent with the chaplain, what attitude he displayed in expec...more
Well, my interest wasn't satisfied. There are four short stories in this book, of which the Roccamatio one is 82 pages.
On the back cover of the book it says: "In 'The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios', two young friends discover the transformative power of the imagination as they join togeher to craft a story about a Fi...more
That said, I really enjoyed this compilation.
There are four short stories in this volume. I found three of the four to be very worthwhile. I struggled through the fourth one - titled "Manners of Dying" - which is simply many versions of a letter written by a p...more
The other two stories, "The Time I Heard The Private Donald J. Rankin String Conce...more
This is a collection of 4 shortish stories. When you write a book like Life of Pi and then go back and publish some of your early books they just will not measure up. Having said that, I enjoyed reading this collection of stories. You can see that this is a young man writing as the author reminds in the stories. It is full of youth's earnestness and seriousness and certainty and doubt (oxymoronic as that is).
The first story (...more
In “The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios”, a novella of about 85 pages, the main character describes how he touches the life of his friend (Paul) dying of AIDS. Together they write stories based on historical facts from each year of the 20th century. I wanted to know more about the story within the story, the story that they wrote together, but that wasn’t what it was about. It was about the tragedy of the young man’s early death. It is fitting...more
Martel's Booker-Prize winning Life of Pi (**** Nov/Dec 2002) merged fact with fiction, reality with fantastical constructs as an Indian boy navigated the Pacific Ocean in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. This collection, written a decade before Life of Pi and spruced up for an American audience, shares the novel's imaginative plotting, deep humanity, and narrative finesse. But__except, perhaps, for the deeply affecting title story__it's not a masterpiece. A few reviewers criticized Martel for his...more
The story started off slow but picked up momentum as the story focused on a boy who is trapped on a small boat adrift at sea with a big tiger for many months. (Tough for that scenario not to be interesting.) Both survive, and without a doubt Martel's power of imagination is revealed through twists and unexpected turns of the...more
Sound - made pleasing and intelligible through melody, rhythm, harmony and counterpoint - becomes our thinking. The grunting of language and the drudgery of semiotics is left behind. Music is a bird's answer to the noise and heaviness of words. It puts the mind in a state of exhilarating sp...more
Admittedly, some stories were a little thin. Yet, I found their juvenile, almost coy state charming. It was insightful to track Martel's progress as a writer, especially his developing style. His fantasy worlds and rough...more
I once heard Martel speak in Montreal, too....more
This is possibly the only collection of short stories I have ever completed. The reason: it was the only book I brought on holiday to Poland (Oberniki was not awash with English language bookshops). So I was forced to stick with it, I was glad I did i...more
The first story, which takes the name of the collec...more
Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963 of peripatetic Canadian parents. He grew up in Alaska, British Columbia, Costa Rica, France, Ontario and Mexico, and has continued travelling as an adult, spending time in Iran, Turkey and India. Martel refers to his travels as, “seeing the same play on a whole lot of...more