Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Brief Encounters with Che Guevara" by Ben Fountain

Hitting the ground running, this book starts with a fascinating tale of a graduate student who studies birds--an ornithologist to be precise.  He is in Central America studying a rare species of birds when he gets kidnapped by rebels who suspect him as spy.  His experiences in this situation are detailed with stunning detail.  After that, there are a series of short stories, none of which are related.  They are not even all about Che Guevara.  Rather, the stories are about freedom and the lack thereof.  There is war, both physical and emotion.  One story chronicles a wife's experience with her PTSD husband who has become obsessed with voodoo after returning from the army.  Another story follows a pianist with eleven fingers whose brilliance is a self-destructive force.  There are many tales to hold the reader's attention, and this book is very well-written.  The only exceptions are the swearing and R-rated parts sprinkled in.

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