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.
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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.
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