Off Paradise: Stories

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University of Nevada Press, 2001 - Fiction - 212 pages
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Martin, the central character of Hart Wegner's powerful short-story cycle, is a middle-aged German emigre who has found a home, of sorts, in the isolated and often surreal setting of contemporary Las Vegas. Exiled at the end of World War II with his parents from their beloved Silesia, the family struggles to come to terms with the turmoil of history and memory while they cope with the challenges of assimilation in an alien setting.

In stories that range from the Nevada desert to the lost world of prewar Silesia, Wegner explores, through the perspectives of Martin, his aging parents, and their small circle of fellow emigres, the intricate tapestry of the exile experience--childhood recollections of the vast and fertile plains of East Germany and the shelter of comfortable and loving homes, memories of the horrors of war, the guilt and terror and despair of displacement, the frustrations of finding one's way in a new and alien culture, the precious ties of family and longtime friendship. And most of all, loss--the loss of home; of an identity formed by an ancient language, the details of a shared culture, and a common sense of past and of future; of loved ones; and finally, and most tragically, of memory itself.

Wegner's characters are vividly and bravely human, bitter, tender, despairing, and full of hope. And ever-seeking a new home, a new place in which to belong after their long sojourn in the wilderness. The inner world of the exile has never been examined with such sympathy, such clarity, or such eloquence. 
 

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OFF PARADISE: Stories

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Steeped in melancholy, Wegner's second collection (after Houses of Ivory, 1988) gives poignant, autobiographical testimony to the dark side of the immigrant experience as two families are uprooted by ... Read full review

Contents

Off Paradise
1
The Stone Girl
33
The Blue Line
55
A Ransom for Tedek
67
Cockshut Light
92
Dogs of Autumn
113
On the Road to Szkaradowo
136
Following the
164
The Pilots of the Rose Trellis
188
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About the author (2001)

Hart Wegner is professor of German, Comparative Literature, and Fim Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and chairs the Department of Film, which he founded. His first collection of stories, Houses of Ivory, was published in 1988. A native German speaker, Wegner has attracted national notoriety for his stories written in English. His fiction has been published in distinguished literary journals, and he has received numerous grants and awards such as inclusion in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Short Stories. In 1990 he was the first foreign-born writer elected to the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. 

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