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California Dream (2013)

by Ismet Prcic(Favorite Author)
3.96 of 5 Votes: 2
2365690157 (ISBN13: 9782365690157)
Les Escales
review 1: My review was originally printed in the Yamhill Valley News-Register, McMinnville, Oregon. ------ Several descriptions of Ismet Prcic's "Shards" convinced me this was a novel I wouldn't want to read, just something I had to power through because it's this year's MacReads book.It wasn't the subject matter -- the main character is a refugee of the 1990s Bosnian civil war -- that put me off. It was the way every report emphasized that the narrative skips back and forth in time and that it includes the parallel story of another young man who stayed in Bosnia, may or may not be the main character and may or may not be real.Sounded too sci-fi; too device-y, as if the egotistical writer (who gave the protagonist his own name, for heaven's sake) was more concerned with showing off... more all the latest tricks, rather than telling a story.I was wrong."Shards" does skip around in time as the narrator, Izzy, struggles to deal with post-traumatic stress by writing a diary. And there are sections about Mustafa, a soldier in Bosnia who shares some traits with Izzy or onto whom, perhaps, Izzy projects his own fears and desires. And it is really, really well-written, with evocative descriptions that take you into a city under siege and the shell-shocked minds of its people, before, during and long after the war.Here's one example: Izzy, who has been living in California for three years, is waiting for a commuter train that will take him to his girlfriend's house. A freighter roars by."The sound pierced me. I fell to the ground. For a moment it was happening right there ... The war had come to me. An explosion rocked the walled-off neighborhood beyond the station's parking lot... Debris sprayed everywhere, clanging into parked cars. A palm tree toppled over onto a green Chrysler. A Mexican kid fell off his bike, smoke devouring the cul-de-sac behind him ... then it was blue sky, and cars wavering in the heat, and the kid contentedly riding in a loop ... and nothing was happening, absolutely nothing was going on.""Shards" is a wonderful book, one I'll remember. I still don't get Pricic's choice of names for the main character, though; it doesn't bother me, but I feel bad for the author -- he must have to spend way too much time explaining that this is a novel, rather than his actual diary.
review 2: Meg Storey (Editor, Tin House Books): I seem to be on a genocide kick and have just read two amazing debut novels about two horrific conflicts, Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, set in Chechnya, and Ismet Prcic’s Shards, about Bosnia. While very different in style and tone, both novels are beautifully written and heartbreaking and somehow manage to depict the atrocities of war while conveying a sense of the absurdity that pervades these situations. (For example, in Marra’s book, a doctor who has not had any news of the outside world in years confuses Ronald McDonald for Ronald Reagan. When he learns who Ronald McDonald is, he is horrified by the idea of people eating hamburgers cooked by a clown. Given the circumstances he’s been living under, his reaction to this information creates a moment of humor, and, well, he does have a point.) But more importantly, these books made me realize that despite the news stories I heard and the statistics I read and my understanding that a lot of people were dying somewhere far away, I knew very little about the actual people who experienced those wars. These novels reminded me that one of the biggest reasons I read fiction is to learn about the lives of others, especially lives so completely different from my own. That said, I should probably take a break from genocide novels and read something about kittens and rainbows, if anyone has any suggestions. less
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un bien étrange roman, qui même s'il nous perd tout du long, ne nous laisse pas de marbre.
Short-listed today for the Center for Fiction's 2011 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize
Brutally honest, scarry and heartwaming in the same time. Great read!
I won this book in a giveaway. Thank you.
Didn't finish
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