Brief Encounters with Che Guevara.

Position:Book review

**** Brief Encounters with Che Guevara Stories By Ben Fountain

Lessons learned in very foreign lands.

Set in countries avoided by most Western tourists--Myanmar, Colombia, Haiti, and Sierra Leone--this debut collection stars fishermen, aid workers, cynical government officials, an aging golfer, a kidnapped student (he didn't look like a spy, causing the rebels to be sure he was one), a jealous military wife (her returned husband has taken up with a voodoo goddess), and a pianist with 11 fingers. Most of the stories concern the American experience abroad, from those struggling to make a difference to those searching for their next exploitative profit. Ecco. 229 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0060885580

NY Times Book Review **** 1/2

"Witty yet full of conscience, tinged with scrappy resignation, it uses devilishly clever layering to showcase people and countries--including the United States--hijacked by history.... Each of these eight stories is as rich as a novel--high praise when you consider how many of today's novels could be distilled into a short story." LIESL SCHILLINGER

San Francisco Chronicle **** 1/2

"These stories are both slightly absurdist and rendered in realistic detail of place and emotion, thereby making the impossible seem possible and the unlikely likely, at least for these characters.... Line by line, word by word, Fountain chooses just the right details, metaphors, similes and descriptions, so that the reader says, yes, that's right, that's how it is." LINDA BURNETT

Boston Globe ****

"Many of these stories are not only ironic but downright funny--at the same time that they feel solid and real and invested with a genuine pathos.... Fountain handles the action with the...

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