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The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios: Stories Hardcover – 1 Sep 2004

3.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; First Edition thus edition (1 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841955361
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841955360
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 12.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,474,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Those who would believe that the art of fiction is moribund - let them read Yann Martel with astonishment, delight and gratitude" Alberto Manguel; "A small masterpiece.... A serious and convincing work that demands to be read" Guardian; "Yann Martel is a vivid and entrancing story-teller." Sunday Telegraph"

Book Description

A brilliant collection of stories from the Booker Prize-winning author of Life of Pi --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Format: Hardcover
I have not read "Life of Pi" yet, but I have heard so many good things about that novel that when I saw this collection of short stories in the bookstore I was intrigued. I started browsing through the foreword, and immediately came to the conclusion that Martel has an innate ability for writing that places him in a select group of authors. That is why I decided to read this book, which contains four stories from the early stages of his career. When I compare the writing used in these stories with the one in the foreword, I cannot help feeling that the author has evolved considerably, but the stories still show early signs of a great writer.
The topics of these short works are highly unusual, which I believe makes them interesting overall, but at some points I found myself feeling that the author was trying to be unique to the extreme, and therefore, going overboard. The first story is the one that gives name to the collection, and the one I found to be the most touching. In this narration, the author presents the account of his relationship with a friend from college and the events that unfolded after this friend was diagnosed with AIDS. Martel shows a natural ability for reaching the heart of the reader with its vibrant descriptions of the emotions the characters experience when faced with such an enormous tragedy. Maybe the fact that the story is based on a real life event, that the author had to face, helped him with making it so vivid.
The other three stories use as topics a peculiar concert in Washington DC with references to how the Vietnam war affected the life of many, a collection of letters with different outcomes regarding the termination of a prisoner waiting for his death sentence, and a machine that makes mirrors by feeding on stories.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Of the 4 fictional works the Mr Martel has released, my personal favourite is this.
On offer here are 4 short stories from the authors earlier work (before life of pi). Stories here range from a story about the authors relationship with a friend suffering from AIDS and a story shared between them; a story about a war veteran composing music; a series of letters from a prison warden sent to the mother of an inmate; and the last being a story about the authors relationship with his grandmother and discovering a rare antique in her many possessions.
The stories themselves don't sound so interesting, until that is, you read them. Martel is an inventive wordsmith and and a lot of these stories (particularly the first and last stories) left me with a lot of food for thought. His blurring of fiction and autobiography is mesmeric, quite simply, and there is a lot of content to these simple stories for you to ponder.
Who would I say this is for? Newbies to Martel, his work is in a more digestible form here and is easier to take on board than his occasionally ponderous later work (yes, life of pi is ponderous, fantastic as it is).
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the hardest books to review that I have read. For starters, it's not a collection of short stories in the "normal" sense. The aren't scaled down works of fiction that one can read quickly and quietly in an afternoon and then feel that you have ticked the box on that author, so to speak. It isn't brilliantly well written or particularly clever. What it is though is honest and in doing that you can begin to see how an author learns his craft. In these short stories Yann Martell achieves something quite stupendous in that he really, truly opens himself up for us to see.
And when dealing with an art form, isn't that truly all we as readers can ask for?
The book is broken up into 4 stories and each is as different as they are off the wall. The first one, and the name sake of the title of the book describes a time when the author was in the tragic position of watching a good friend die from aids. He refrains from giving away too much of the interactions of the dying friend and for this I applaud him. It is up to him if he wants to bear his soul, but not fair to bear someone else's. This story is truly tragic and although not written as a tear jerker, or to particularly shock it manages both through the clever writing which really helps you to understand what it must have been like. This story to me is the most obviously powerful and well worth opening the book to.
The second short story concerns a piece of music that the author hears whilst visiting what appears to be quite an obnoxious friend (not relevant to the book though). This is a peculiar and somewhat less poignant story but powerful in it's own right.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first read this book I was disappointed that it was nothing like Life of Pi. In fact I thought it was boring, a dreary static affair. A second reading has made me shift my opinion a bit. It has a sensitivity that escaped me first time round. However, much of it still fails to ignite my enthusiasm. It's just so mundane, so plodding, so uninteresting. A million miles from his best seller.
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