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Polish Boxer by Eduardo Halfon

Polish Boxer (edition 2012)

by Eduardo Halfon, Daniel Hahn (Translator), Ollie Brock (Translator), Lisa Dillman (Translator), Thomas Bunstead (Translator)1 more, Anne McClean (Translator)

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11730103,116 (4.15)79
Title:Polish Boxer
Authors:Eduardo Halfon (Author)
Other authors:Daniel Hahn (Translator), Ollie Brock (Translator), Lisa Dillman (Translator), Thomas Bunstead (Translator), Anne McClean (Translator)
Info:Bellvue Literary Press; Uncorrected Proof, to be publishen in October 2012; First Edition; Paperback; originally published in Spanish in 2008.
Collections:Read, Early Reviewer's via LibraryThing.com
Tags:Guatamala, Cultural, autobio-fction, gypsy, Serbia, Auschwitz, Poland, Jews, racial prejudice, racial intolerance; jazz

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The Polish boxer by Eduardo Halfon



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English (30)  German (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
I'm in two, or maybe even several, minds about The Polish Boxer. On the one hand it is very clever, for another the writing, mostly, is better than good and sometimes better than excellent, yet, it is also, a bit too clever about this idea of the interface, overlapping or what-have-you of reality and fiction. In the beginning I felt bombarded with the message: "there's more to this book than meets the eye" later, I felt it was something of an excuse for cramming in related ideas (say, Halfon's quest to understand his own roots sublimated into the quest for his Gypsy (maybe) friend) and in the end bludgeoned by the whole idea that we make up our past as it recedes. And yet. Just when I felt fed up along came this paragraph (Halfon is snowed inside in Belgrade while on his quest for his friend): "I spent the rest of the day shut inside, smoking and eating the supplies I'd bought and reading a bit and listening to a few pieces by Melodious {his nickname for Thelonius} and watching Venezuelan soaps dubbed into Serbian, and Russian films dubbed into Serbian, and American cartoons dubbed into Serbian, and taking short naps without dreaming or at least dreaming very little, and it was one day less, one day lost, one day further from everything and close to nothing, while the hours didn't pass so much as suddenly become one single hour, one single static hour like a bedsheet with no creases, one goddamn shitty and unbelievably eternal hour, so dark and so lonely and tasting of dead birds." Whatever its flaws, or what I think might be flaws, it is well worth reading. **** ( )
  sibyx | Oct 13, 2015 |
It's like reading the vignettes of someone's minds, of their life. I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters and can't wait to read more. ( )
  MMariaSmith | Sep 26, 2015 |
The Polish Boxer by Eduard Halfon
A refreshing new voice added to my long list of Latin American literature with the added bonus of Jewish themes. I am sure this is on the reading list of Ilan Stavens but it reminds me, too, of Junot Diaz.
The story, POSTCARDS, is a small masterpiece, the author receiving encrypted messages from a mysterious Serbian pianist and composer that reveal the history and essence of Gypsy culture. ( )
1 vote berthirsch | May 27, 2015 |
In rooms and down streets and corridors, Halfon suggests and evokes—longing, loss, lust, uncertainty. A short, searching work to get lost in.

Brother Thelonious Belgian Abbey Ale
Left Hand Stranger Pale Ale
  MusicalGlass | Dec 13, 2014 |
Great writing, but not my idea of a novel! Aside from the man in character, what was the coalescing element? I couldn't find it. It was like a corn maze - hold on to the right hand wall and you will get out. In this case, believe that the main character has some way of leading you through the stories and you may see this book as a novel. Why not just call them short stories? Once again, I thought the author was a talented writer. The form is the question. ( )
1 vote aslan7 | Oct 3, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Eduardo Halfon is the author of 11 books, but “The Polish Boxer” is his first to be translated into English, by, as it happens, five translators. This seems less a testament to the difficulty of the novel than a playful nod to one of its central preoccupations: how translation is a form of writing and writing is a form of translation. It is the sort of concern that can easily become ponderous in the wrong hands; in Halfon’s, it is funny and revelatory.
“These are the stories of life . . . the question of survival (of both people and cultures) and the way the fictional makes the real bearable and intelligible.”
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"I have moved the typewriter into the next room where I can see myself in the mirror as I write."—Henry Miller
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I was pacing among them, moving up and down between the rows of desks as if trying to find my way out of a labyrinth. We were reading from a Ricardo Piglia essay. We read about the dual nature of the short story, and it didn’t surprise me, as I looked out, to be met with a sea of faces covered in acne and heartfelt bewilderment.
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Book description
The Polish Boxer is a semi-autobiographical tale about roots and origins: the subtly subversive longing for lost identity, the emotionally treacherous territory of cultural exile, and the lingering legacy of history’s atrocities. As the narrator—a Guatemalan literature professor and writer named Eduardo Halfon—travels from small Mayan villages to a Scottish bar in Antigua, and from a Mark Twain conference in North Carolina through the memories of his Polish grandfather’s nightmare at Auschwitz and to a Gypsy neighborhood in Serbia, he encounters people whose stories are as rich and diverse as the languages they speak.

Revelatory, courageous, and full of humor, the narrator’s voice is finely attuned to the ways we use language to make art, conversation, music, and love—revealing the nuances of desire and suffering always just below the surface of human interaction. Despite his protest that “Literature is no more than a good trick . . . making reality appear whole, creating the illusion that reality is a single unified thing,” every word in this slim novel is a testament to literature’s power to reveal truths that range well beyond the boundaries of academic reason.
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"Covers a vast landscape of human experience while enfolding a search for origins: a grandson tries to make sense of his Polish grandfather's past and the story behind his numbered tattoo; a Serbian classical pianist longs for his forbidden heritage; a Mayan poet is torn between his studies and filial obligations; a striking young Israeli woman seeks answers in Central America; a university professor yearns for knowledge that he can't find in books and discovers something unexpected at a Mark Twain conference. Drawn to what lies beyond the range of reason, they all reach for the beautiful and fleeting, whether through humor, music, poetry, or unspoken words. Across his encounters with each of them, the narrator--a Guatemalan literature professor and writer named Eduardo Halfon--pursues his most enigmatic subject: himself."--Back cover.… (more)

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