My House Is on Fire

Ariel Dorfman, Author Viking Books $17.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-670-82021-4
The title story of Chilean writer Dorfman's ( Mascara ) collection embodies, as dramatically and movingly as any of these 11 passionate, brilliant tales, their common theme of human distress under the Pinochet regime. With mingled terror and stoicism, a little boy braces for the imminent visitation of police-state authorities on his resisting family, and finds himself unable to trust or tell between friend and enemy. The stories bear forceful and yet subtle witness to the plight of a people mortally divided against itself. While stirring the reader on behalf of the ostensibly ordinary folk who risk everything to resist authoritarian rule, and others who bitterly capitulate in order to survive, Dorfman is also capable of conveying the personalities of three macho naval cadets on leave in San Francisco, whose brutish behavior is partially a result of their cultural conditioning. His capacity to inspire an ennobled moral sense of man is displayed in two superb tales, Reader and Titan , where the art of fiction itself becomes the means whereby men are enabled to transcend themselves heroically. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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