Sunday, January 30, 2011

Elegy for a Fabulous World by Alta Ifland

A representative from the Old Country, with its big lies and deprivations and bloody history, comes to abundant Pepsodent smiling America.

These short stories are about memory, a look back to childhood, as well as to a tragic folkloric Eastern Europe about to be buried in a crass avalanche of consumerism. I’m not sure what the elegy is for- childhood, or Communism or Europe, or the small town claustrophobic village life. Or for an impossible mother. Or all four perhaps. The humor and the tragedy come from the tension between the innocent child, who doesn’t know any better, and then the slow realization these people in this country got the short sharp end of history’s stick. Lots of humor in the writing, but also lots of restrained anger. I really enjoyed these stories. Magical things happen, but it feels normal because it’s Eastern Europe. It feels normal.

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