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Words Are Something Else [Paperback]

David Albahari , Charles Simic , Tomislav Longinovic , Ellen Elias-Bursac

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Book Description

Aug. 12 1996 Writings from an Unbound Europe
David Albahari is one of the most prominent prose writers to come out of the former Yugoslavia in the last twenty years. His short stories, which developed largely outside the canon of Serbian literature, have influenced a generation of Balkan writers. This collection gathers Albahari's best and most important stories, moving from an early preoccupation with the family and Central European culture to metafictional searches for the roots of his identity.

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From Amazon

Set in the author's native Serbia, this collection of short stories reveals a vision transcending the narrow world of Serbian nationalism. David Albahari is concerned with the separation of people, but in a more universal sense than the tribal. He has the modern writer's obsession with our inability to express in words what is really meant; he even plays with self-reference, pointing to the inability of a reader to grasp the hidden context of literature. In the early stories, a claustrophobically close Jewish family struggles comically to communicate. In the later ones, it is a husband and wife who strive for an elusive connection. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

"One false move gives rise to a whole story," says the "writer," the protagonist of one of the 27 very short stories in this debut collection from Serbian writer Albahari. His stories comes in a jumble of styles, from sensitive portraits of his family and the rueful nostalgia to surreal struggles with man-sized insects and fantasies of Godzilla and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance mingling with the populace of his Serbian town. They are interspersed with monochromatic vignettes illustrating tired banalities of everyday life and an essay in the style of a shopping list. For Albahari, momentous events and the most insignificant ones are fair game for his ruminations. His concerns are the timeless questions of truth, loneliness and the human condition, and his personal identity, as a writer and as a Jew, is a prominent theme. Despite a pervasive bitterness, Albahari pushes his fruitful wit and invention to some delightful limits. Although his focus is largely autobiographical, he is never satisfied to rely on a single authorial voice and instead creates an eclectic mix of alter egos, some more developed than others. The best of these works are capable of great depth ("...the Death of Ruben Rubenovic..." is particularly moving), but a number of them lead only to cul-de-sacs, the endgame of a false move.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars david albahari is Europe's master of the short short story. Aug. 16 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
the mystery of the word, the tricks of the mind, the lunacy of the everyday is the stuff of Europe's master short short story writer. this is the first translation of david albahari's work into English. he has published 10 collections of short stories and novellas to date and is considered one of the prime writers from the former Yugoslavia. He currently lives in Calgary, Canada, where he came from Belgrade to be Markin-Flanagan distinguished writer in residence in 1995. Of Jewish background, albahari is concerned with the depth and shallowness of human identity and the role that chance plays in survival. with a dark sense of humour and a light sense of tragedy he captures the pain of 20th century existence
5.0 out of 5 stars Very brainy! Would read again! A+++++++++ Nov. 6 2008
By Cliff Milledge - Published on Amazon.com
I really really like David Albahari's short fiction. Sometimes his long-form stuff can be a little difficult, but the short stories are tight and loose and poignant and meandering all at once.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dark side of the Moon Feb. 9 2000
By aurel - Published on Amazon.com
Albahari's work is and will be a complex simplicity, a work wich will always make you think about the words: the power of words. Most of his work has not been translated yet. I hope that somebody will start doing it. If not, I will not be surprised, if Albahari will start to write in English - in that way the Ballkan will have the first Joseph Conrad! His stories are awesome, you will have a feeling that you are reading through a microscope, you will reveal thinks that you see but that you never percieved them before, you will start to be possesed by inner ideas how life is such a complex world (especially in Ballkan (sic!)), and with all it's tragic ingredients how terrible can it be when nationalism, hate and historical revenege starts to rise and to controll you ... If the Second WW was over the memories still remain.Albahari writes about it. He writes through his father or mother. But, what shall Albahari do now when the civil war in Yugoslavia destroyed the whole new generations! He still writes about his father and mother: the history will be rewinded again! There will be nothing new! The time in Ballkan doesen't exist, and if it does , then it exist differently. Serbs & Croats, Serbs & Muslims, Muslims& Croats, Serbs & Albanians ...they will slaughter each other and there will be nothing new under the Sun ... except the family saga of one Jewish family.
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