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Flights of Love: Stories Hardcover – Oct 2 2001
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Flights of Love sees Bernhard Schlink build on the success of his international bestselling debut novel, The Reader, with a clutch of short stories that tell of the variety of love, distilled into seven splinters of narrative. The pick of the seven, the opening "Girl with Lizard," depicts a remote male character who fixates on a painting of his father's, which he is to discover, like his father, has a familiarly unsavory past, and which he is impelled to exorcise. In the book's centerpiece, "Sugar Peas," architect and amateur painter Thomas finds that his trio of lovers avenge themselves on his profligacy after he is left wheelchair-bound by an accident. "The Other Man" presents a widower corresponding with his dead wife's unwitting lover, and finding comfort through acquaintance. Less successfully, "The Circumcision" sees the pretext of a German man and his New York Jewish girlfriend to ponder huge, chewy rhetoric on the problems of reconciling the past, almost absentmindedly concocting an improbable denouement. Schlink too often presents scenarios rather than scenes, more intent on dislocated dilemma than language. In keeping with his legal training, he discerns lines of attack more suited to a drama, or perhaps a courtroom drama, than fiction. There can be no doubting Schlink's storytelling acumen or his undertaking to tackle the complicated identity of modern Germany. What is increasingly exposed, though, are the supporting mechanisms that too frequently serve to reinforce, rather than challenge, our assumptions with their didactic contrivance. --David Vincent, Amazon.co.uk
From Publishers Weekly
Schlink's The Reader was a surprise bestseller on these shores, discovered by Oprah and established by word of mouth. The writer's mastery of form, concise yet thorough probing of character, and concern with the moral implications of human behavior are again in evidence in these seven gripping stories. German men are protagonists in each of them, with some traits in common: a need for order, efficiency, respectability and righteousness, and a difficulty in expressing emotion. While the settings are mainly in Germany, two stories take place in North America and one in an unnamed South American country. Though love is the common emotion in each, not a trace of sentimentality mars the tensile energy of the narratives. Instead, Schlink examines the wounds inflicted by history and bitterness, jealousy and regret, neglect and repressed emotions. The penalties of love, and the lack of it, are paid by spouses, lovers, children. "A Little Fling," perhaps the most haunting story in the collection, deals with the legacy of betrayal fostered by the Berlin Wall. The shadow of the Holocaust prevents a man from experiencing love in "Girl with Lizard" and bewilders another young man in "The Circumcision," whose title threatens to remove suspense, but Schlink adds a quietly devastating twist at the end. Despite Schlink's matter-of-fact depiction of events, "The Other Man" and "Sugar Peas" can test credibility, but both stories are anchored in such strikingly portrayed characters that the reader's trust remains strong. The clarity of Schlink's vision and the calm eloquence with which it's expressed make these tales classics of their genre. First serial to the New Yorker.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Perhaps the title, FLIGHTS OF LOVE, caused me to expect stories that would be somewhat fanciful; that would be infused with lyricism and poetry (which was exactly what I was looking for at the time). Instead, I found stories that attempted a gritty reality but were, more often than not, quite awkward, both in construction and in language. I certainly can't blame the translation for this because I read these stories in the original German edition, published as LIEBESFLUCHTEN. THE READER was definitely a gritty novel, but it also possessed a grace and dignity I found almost completely lacking in these stories. The two exceptions were the first story, "Girl With Lizard," which, though quite gritty, was also poignant and thoroughly believable and "The Son," which was powerful and subdued.
For the most part, Schlink's characters indulge in the most improbable, rash and downright inane actions...all in the name of love. Perhaps these are the "flights" mentioned in the title, although I saw them more as flights of sheer stupidity than of love. Love really doesn't play a very big part in these stories; infatuation and hormonal inbalance does.
The book's centerpiece, "Sugar Peas," was woven around a premise so preposterous as to be downright silly. Same with "The Circumcision." That story's main character does something very few grown men in their right mind would do and what's worse, he does it for all the wrong reasons. The closing story, "The Woman at the Gas Station" could have been good if only Schlink had allowed his character to make a different decision.Read more ›
It seemed to me that every single story in this collection dealt with someone's failure at love, their disappointment in it, their disillusionment with it, or their guilt about the way they had treated someone they loved. In 'The circumcision', a German man is offended when his American fiancée refers to his 'German-ness' and remarks that her friends looked at him in this light as well. One of the characteristics she assigns to him in this regard is his cold obsession with organization. Frankly, I can see a similar trait in Schlink's work -- and please understand that's not to say that he's not a brilliant writer. I guess the worst thing I can say that he's just not my 'cup of tea.'
Most recent customer reviews
Love is not easy: not only attaining it, winning the heart of your loved one, but, most difficult and most important, keeping it. Read morePublished on Dec 1 2002 by Ventura Angelo
Bernhard Schlink created a devoted following with the translation of his first novel THE READER. Opinion was divided among critics and readers as to whether or not this author was... Read morePublished on Sept. 8 2002 by Grady Harp
When I finished THE READER, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I was convinced that the book was autobiogrpahical and that Bernhard Schlink had done what may writers do; tell the one... Read morePublished on June 23 2002 by C. Ellen Connally
If you like simple books with strong message, this is the book for you. This book brings interesting dilemmas in which you can relate to the main character. Read morePublished on May 5 2002 by Irena Jakobsdatter
I read "The Reader" and had to get more Schlink. These short stories are incredible. The dialogue and story settings are all extremely well crafted and each story will... Read morePublished on April 17 2002
This is the first book I have read by Bernhard Schlink. Based upon this initial exposure to his work, I look forward to reading other books he has written that are being translated... Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2002 by taking a rest
I totally fell in love with this book. I seemed to like each story better than the last.... "Girl With Lizard" would have been my fave though, if I had to pick just one. Read morePublished on Dec 7 2001 by Leebee
Bernard Schlink has done it again: created a small masterpiece, with this group of seven short stories. Read morePublished on Nov. 7 2001 by Lynn Adler