Brief Encounters with the Enemy: Fiction

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Each story compels you to read the next, and no character escapes unscathed. Keep Reading. Cartography The winter the bus drivers went on strike I was twenty-three years old and living on the edge of the city in a neighborhood that was on the verge of becoming a ghetto. The parks had closed, and so had the supermarket, and also the elementary school, and every night the streetlights appeared to have gotten dimmer. The easiest way into and out of the neighborhood was by crossing through an underpass, but everyone had stopped using that.

Instead, we took the long way up the hill and over the thoroughfare that ran six lanes.

A Brief Encounter with the Enemy

It was no longer a surprise to pick up the morning newspaper and learn that there had been yet another regrettable occurrence in the neighborhood the previous day. The owner of the firm was a tubby, bearded, gregarious, well-read man named Ned Frost, who had large white teeth and a habit of vigorously rubbing his hands together when he laughed, as if he were attempting to start a fire with his palms.

He wore tweed jackets, had bad breath, and fancied himself a poet. His interest in me gave me confidence that I was someone who might have a bright future after all. But no more than three weeks after I had started working for him, he informed me that I was a closeted gay man and that if only I had the courage to admit this, then the two of us could be together. An hour or so later, he would enter and stand by my desk, hovering, shifting from foot to foot, his hands deep in his pockets jingling coins, pretending to busy himself with files, waiting for me to initiate conversation.

I had learned from a female intern that I was just one in a succession of young men whom Ned Frost had hired, courted, and then, when they rebuffed him, fired. I wanted to keep the job, of course, so I tried my best to pretend things were normal and aboveboard.

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My only identifiable skill was apparently an ability—recognized by Ned Frost—to design maps, and I envisioned myself as a great failure if I allowed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at a vocation to slip away. But one afternoon any ambiguity was finally put to rest when, at the end of an immense sixteen-page letter about the movie E.

And the war was coming, everybody said so. It was seen as a selfish act of sabotage. In reality, it was only poor people who needed to ride the bus, so they were essentially the ones who were affected by the strike, scrambling to get to work by any means, sometimes eight to a car. It took enormous effort for him to stand or walk, and he went outside on average twice a month, once to the bank and once to the post office.

Brief Encounters with the Enemy

I could care. In spite of his miserable physical condition, Frankie was easygoing, affable, a man who had come to accept his lot in life. I believed I would have killed myself if I had to scrape down the stairwell like him, doing in five minutes what a two-year-old could do in thirty seconds, but he never complained. He had become adept at managing everything himself, mostly by using his right hand, and he would adamantly turn down any offers of assistance.

Look at me! A lifetime of alcoholism had been responsible for his stroke, so he had only himself to blame. This seemed to be an empowering thought for him, and he repeated it often and with great intensity.

He struck me as a pervert, a degenerate, the kind of man who would have dressed in a trench coat. And one plain. See details.

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Be the first to write a review About this product. New other : lowest price. About this product Product Information "An unnamed American city feeling the effects of a war waged far away and suffering from bad weather is the backdrop for this startling work of fiction. The protagonists are aimless young men going from one blue collar job to the next, or in a few cases, aspiring to middle management.

Their everyday struggles-with women, with the morning commute, with a series of cruel bosses-are somehow transformed into storytelling that is both universally resonant and wonderfully uncanny. That is the unsettling, funny, and ultimately heartfelt originality of Said Sayrafiezadeh's short fiction, to be at home in a world not quite our own but with many, many lessons to offer us.

Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. This is a splendid fiction debut.

09 Brief Encounters - Franz Ferdinand

This is a thrilling report from the trenches. Sayrafiezadeh uses the arrival and escalation of that war as the through-line connecting each personal drama. These calculated echoes work to unify Mr. Sayrafiezadeh's haunting book in a way that story collections rarely manage. His stories.

Brief encounters with the enemy : fiction (Book, ) []

Brief Encounters with the Enemy does something rare in that it contributes something new and 'essentially different' to the literature of war-our stories, about what it's like over here. It's discomfiting, and surprising, and illuminating to say the least. I've not read anything like it before. With insightful humor and a keen eye for offbeat details, Sayrafiezadeh, entertaining and political without being heavy-handed, is a force to be reckoned with.

This writer's prose has some of [Isaac Bashevis] Singer's wistful comedy, and a good deal of that writer's curiosity about the places where desire, self-sacrifice and societal obligation intersect and collide. It felt like the story was being whispered in my ear. I haven't read a memoir in quite a while that has so skillfully made sense of an American childhood.

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