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The View from Stalin's Head

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  92 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The ten stories in The View from Stalin’s Head unfold in the post–Cold War Prague of the 1990s—a magnet not only for artists and writers but also for American tourists and college grad deadbeats, a city with a glorious yet sometimes shameful history, its citizens both resentful of and nostalgic for their Communist past. Against this backdrop, Aaron Hamburger conjures an ar ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 9th 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2004)
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Dec 05, 2007 rated it liked it
I read Faith for Beginners, Hamburger's first novel, this past summer. I had a lot of problems with it, though I would not go so far as to say I did not like it.I picked up this book not initially realizing that had been written by the same author. I was pulled in by the subject matter as I don't know a whole lot about queer life in Eastern Europe.

As with many short story collections, you start to get inside the head of the author as they explore similar themes and sometimes even the same plot p
May 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
The ten stories in Hamburger’s lovely debut collection focus primarily on Americans in Prague—a new lost generation on a quest for something they can’t quite name in a world that makes even less sense to them than their own. Throughout, Prague is depicted as a city scarred by its recent communist past, as the collection’s ominous title suggests. The title story, in fact, is perhaps the most disturbing, in which an elderly victim of the Soviet regime hires a young man to humiliate him in an S/M g ...more
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: judaism, shortstories
The Spanish writer, Baltasar Gracián y Morales wrote, "Good things, when short, are twice as good." I loved Aaron Hamburger's faith for beginners: a novel and I was eager to see what he could do with the short story.

Most of the stories in this collection are set in Prague, (with the exception of a tale about cousins, "Law of Return," which takes place in Israel). Mr. Hamburger's characters are brilliant and, with a feat of sorcery, he transports the reader to their world. The last time I respon
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Picked up this enchanting collection of short stories in a museum shop in Prague and had it half finished by the time I got to the airport. Young Americans come to post-Cold War Prague to escape bourgeois backgrounds and find identity, faith, love, and/or sex. Their quests for the real Bohemia turn out differently than they imagine. A few stories focus on Czech characters with the title one--about a former dissident who can't get used to the lack of police intrusion and abuse in his life--perhap ...more
Jan 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Awarding a star for style. 10 stories about Jewish and ex-Jewish expatriates, some gay, some straight, in Prague in the early nineties. They are beautifully written and interesting character studies, but not exactly plot-driven, falling more into the uncomfortable/awkward encounters after which nothing much happens school of short story telling. Not a terrible book, by any means, but hard to connect with.
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it
The book cover says the connection between these stories is Prague, but it could very well be homosexuality, Judaism, or anything we cling to in order to effectively ostracize ourselves because of our own insecurities.
May 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: donated-to-a-lfl
Enoyable but maybe not very memorable. Didn't seem like the author had a great grasp on how heterosexual ladies and gents behave and I feel like we kept meeting the same combinations of character types in slightly different settings around Prague. But some interesting moments and insights too.
Surfing Moose
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: paperbacks, dnf
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shows promise.
Debra B.
Apr 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I found the characters and plots of these stories interesting, but frequently thought the endings missed something.
Aug 13, 2009 rated it liked it
nice stories about usaer in Czech land. looking for love in all the wrong places. very matter-of-fact but made surreal by us weird humans.
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the best short story collection I've read in years! I'm surprised this didn't receive greater acclaim.
Jim Grimsley
Nov 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a strong collection of stories, the most impressive aspect of which is the setting and material, Americans, and particularly Jewish Americans, in the Czech Republic, most in Prague, a city that was the cool destination for artists for quite a number of years. The most memorable of the stories for me is the title story and its examination of (and a very subtle examination of) domination dynamics and betrayal between two boys and an older man who is reliving his days as an opponent of what ...more
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
I liked Faith for Beginners so much that I looked this one up as well, but it is not worth recommending. Nothing happens!
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Aaron Hamburger is the author of the novel Nirvana Is Here, a story collection titled The View From Stalin's Head, which was awarded the Rome Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and nominated for a Violet Quill Award, and a novel titled Faith For Beginners, nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.

His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune,

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