Fingers Pointing Somewhere Else

Daniela Fischerova, Author, Neil Bermel, Translator
Daniela Fischerova, Author, Neil Bermel, Translator Catbird Press $19.95 (174p) ISBN 978-0-945774-44-0
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Open Ebook - 175 pages - 978-1-936053-18-6
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The range of tone and material in this collection of seven short stories attests to Fischerova's mastery of the genre. Best known for her plays, this is the first book by the prolific and critically acclaimed Czech author to appear in English translation. The first few stories describe intellectual and moral developments in young women. ""My Conversations with Aunt Marie"" conveys a four-year-old girl's growing awareness as she tries to put her family in context. Sent from Czechoslovakia to spend the summer in Germany with a mentally unstable aunt, the girl unwittingly facilitates and then destroys her aunt's alternate reality. ""Far and Near"" measures a young writer's love affair with a married man in dispassionate, cold language. Speaking from a distance of 14 years, the narrator recalls ""lethargic, wobbly, pointless conversations, at a safe distance from anything that could touch us."" ""What did we talk about?"" she wonders, delving into the dark and somewhat ugly subject of what each had to gain from the relationship. Fischerova is equally adept at conjuring stories from far-flung vantage points. For instance, in ""The Thirty-Sixth Chicken of Master Wu,"" an elderly master chef in an unnamed Far Eastern country is pressed to concoct a new chicken dish for each of the emperor's birthdays. When the chef's nephew, a young poet, seeks refuge in his kitchen with a subversive poem, the verse serves in the creation of a strange and wonderful dish. Adroitly translated by Bermel, this collection is an excellent introduction to one of the most influential Czech writers in the literary generation following that of Milan Kundera, Ivan Kl ma and Josef Skvorecky. (Feb.)
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