Jim Grimsley's Reviews > The View from Stalin's Head

The View from Stalin's Head by Aaron Hamburger
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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 I would call Stalinism, because of the title. There are other jewels here: the first story, "A Man of the Country" and its subtle portrayal of longing, friendship, and a hope that is marginal and fogged. "The Ground You Are Standing On" has a remarkable power, an evocation of the Holocaust as it is still fought out in the present day. I would call "You Say You Want a Revolution" the weakest of the stories, never quite certain of its purpose, though containing some lovely dialogue moments and portraits. These stories viewed in today's gender setting are examinations of types of people, not particularly centered on queer themes, though queers are welcome here. The stories hold to their territory with strength and integrity and mark out the further development of a fine writer. I have been hesitant as to my rating because I know Aaron but when I think of the presence of an oversized paper mâché bust of Stalin in the basement of a grim apartment where a strange fantasy is repeated... Well, that settles the issue.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
November 6, 2020 – Shelved

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