Brief Encounters with Che Guevara

Ben Fountain, Author
Ben Fountain, Author . Ecco $24.95 (229p) ISBN 978-0-06-088558-8
Reviewed on: 05/08/2006
Release date: 08/01/2006
Paperback - 229 pages - 978-0-06-088560-1
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 272 pages - 978-0-06-147828-4
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-147822-2
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-147830-7
Other - 978-0-06-143883-7
Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-85786-713-1
Hardcover - 229 pages - 978-0-85786-711-7
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-184762-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-231895-4
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Six of these eight debut short stories feature Americans abroad, on modified grand tours stopping in Colombia, Haiti, Myanmar and Sierra Leone. As aid workers, soldiers and hangers-on, they grapple with some of the darkest circumstances in the contemporary world, their struggles made absurd by the ease with which they can and do return home. A few are honorably conflicted, including the NGO worker who betrays her diamond-smuggling lover. Others, including an indolent golfer who sells his soul along with his game, and a writer nursing an obsession with Che Guevara, draw less sympathy. Fountain seems to see both travel and introspection as amoral indulgences, which means there's serious writerly self-hatred here, since those indulgences feed his tales. The stories that avoid moral writhings for postmodern fable are his most memorable. When a Haitian fisherman discovers a drug runners' drop-off and tries to alert the police, only to find them driving shiny new SUVs, he turns next to the village's voodoo revelers—who have better ideas about what to do with the dope. Lively work, with much to detest and much to enjoy. (Aug.)

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