Like a postmodern Aesop, Jakob Arjouni wittily punctures pretension and self-deception. These tales are characterized by ironic humor with an underlying note of melancholy. Among the delightful idiots collected here, the author offers a domineering mother whose rock star son fails to appreciate her efforts on his behalf; a hopeful young movie ...
Like a postmodern Aesop, Jakob Arjouni wittily punctures pretension and self-deception. These tales are characterized by ironic humor with an underlying note of melancholy. Among the delightful idiots collected here, the author offers a domineering mother whose rock star son fails to appreciate her efforts on his behalf; a hopeful young movie director with a bad case of writer's block; and an aging author of pulp fiction trying to write one good, serious book before he dies. They are all visited by a fairy who offers to grant one wish, with the exceptions of immortality, health, money, and love. Their wishes, once granted, have stinging consequences--the resolutions of which read like an updated version of the Brothers Grimm. A would-be novelist, whose marriage is on the rocks, longs for excitement and soon finds himself taken hostage by a girl bank robber; and a mysterious old man who comes to a village to end his days in peace winds up the close acquaintance of the local drunk.
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Publishers Weekly, 2005-04-11 Fairies promise one wish-but not "immortality, health, money and love"-to each of the wretched, narcissistic protagonists in the first five stories of Arjouni's sardonic new collection. In the title story, a fairy comes to the aid of a miserable ad exec desperate to save his company from financial ruin. A promising young film director who suffers paralyzing anxiety attacks asks a fairy to erase his fear of failure in "Defeated." The fairy grants literary help to an aging pulp-fiction writer yearning for serious artistic success in "In the Valley of Death." Although Arjouni offers poignant insight into his characters' secret insecurities and base desires, the fairy tale conceit and ironic twists work too predictably, flattening otherwise clever stories. The remaining four tales hinge on themes of loneliness, desperation and the hazards of self-love. In "A Friend," for example, an acclaimed theater director pays a hitchhiker to pose as his friend at a birthday celebration, hiring him, in essence, as an extra in a strange production. Despite some pat plotting, Arjouni weaves lively, ironic tales about desperate folk at the edges of contemporary German society. Agent, Diogenes Verlag (Germany). (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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