Melody's Reviews > Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories

Brief Encounters with Che Guevara by Ben Fountain
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's review
Sep 26, 2007

really liked it
Recommended for: anyone who enjoys short stories and can be sympathetic to non-capitalist ideals.
Read in October, 2007

In a curiously appropriate but unintentional homage to Whit Stillman's Barcelona, I just read this book of stories on a trip to the finger lakes of Northern Michigan.

Overall, I found this book well-pitched: not quite comedy, not quite tragedy. Instead, it's significantly complex in its outlook and presentation of those who try to do right in the developing world where "it's never clean." From its likable characters and highly readable style, to its thought-provoking themes, this is a novel I'll be glad to recommend to many.

From time to time the stories stumble - slightly heavy handed in their revolutionary zeal, such as the moment when one impoverished Haitian ask, "Is this what the black man must do for respect?" It also hits a false note with the final story, which, though thematically inappropriate is topically too varied to fit comfortably in this collection. It's a bit heavy handed in wrapping up the book up by implicating its audience in fascist sympathies. I also don't care for the way HarperPerennial decided to market the author at the end.

But even with these complaints, I'll return to the story of the "Near Extinct Birds of the Central Cordillera," "Asian Tiger," "Reve Haitian," "Bouki and the Cocaine," and "The Lion's Mouth," becuase they're lovely stories of what happens to desire, goodwill, and faith when faced with economic and political dissipation, and I'll return to "The Good Ones are Already Taken" just because it's so troubling.


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