Off Paradise by Hart Wegner
Stories (Western Literature Series)

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Martin, the central character of Hart Wegner's powerful new short-story cycle, is a middle-aged German émigré who has found a home, of sorts, in the glitzy, 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 émigrés, 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, an award-winning writer of short stories, at the very top of his form in this moving, unforgettable collection. His 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. The inner world of exile has never been examined with such sympathy, such clarity, or such eloquence. These are stories that no one who loves fine writing should miss.

About Hart Wegner

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Wegner is Professor of German, Comparative Literature and Film Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and chairs the Department of Film, which he founded.
Published September 1, 2001 by University of Nevada Press. 224 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Martin’s own painful recollections include images of a boyhood house destroyed, but he is also faced with a more recent tragedy in “On the Road to Skaradowo.” Serving as witness to his father’s last days in Las Vegas, he recognizes that with the old man’s death his link to his past becomes more t...

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In the title story, Martin's childhood friend Lottel and her husband come for a visit and Lottel tries to recreate a favorite meal from the old country using ingredients purchased in a supermarket, but the meat and red cabbage dish proves disappointing: "True, they were happy being together at th...

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