The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios by Yann Martel

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Synopsis

Here are four unforgettable stories by the author of Life of Pi. In the exquisite title novella, a very young man dying of AIDS joins his friend in fashioning a story of the Roccamatio family of Helsinki, set against the yearly march of the twentieth century whose horrors and miracles their story echoes. In "The Time I Heard the Private Donald J. Rankin String Concerto with One Discordant Violin, by the American composer John Morton," a Canadian university student visits Washington, D.C., and experiences the Vietnam War and its aftermath through an intense musical encounter. In "Manners of Dying," variations of a warden's letter to the mother of a son he has just executed reveal how each life is contained in its end. The final story, "The Mirror Machine", is about a young man who discovers an antique mirror-making machine in his grandmother's attic. The man's fascination with the object is juxtaposed with the longwinded reminiscences it evokes from his grandmother.

Written earlier in Martel's career, these tales are as moving as they are thought-provoking, as inventive in form as they are timeless in content. They display that startling mix of dazzle and depth that have made Yann Martel an international phenomenon.

 

About Yann Martel

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Yann Martel is the Man Booker Prize-winning author of Life of Pi. When he stays put, he lives in Montreal.
 
Published January 1, 2004 by (Edinburgh) Canongate (2004).. 224 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment, History. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios

The New York Times

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It's a smart little puzzle that would seem to reflect the author's belief that ''all reality is to some extent a fiction.'' In the final story, ''The Vita Aeterna Mirror Company,'' a young man finds a machine in his grandmother's basement that can make mirrors from memories.

Dec 05 2004 | Read Full Review of The Facts Behind the Helsinki...

The New York Times

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he Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios" is the work of a young writer aspiring to make a strong impression.

Nov 22 2004 | Read Full Review of The Facts Behind the Helsinki...

The Guardian

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The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios by Yann Martel 239pp, Canongate, £9.99 This collection of short stories was first published more than a decade ago, when the Canadian writer Yann Martel was unknown to just about everyone but his family.

Sep 25 2004 | Read Full Review of The Facts Behind the Helsinki...

Publishers Weekly

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Pathos is leavened with inventiveness and humor in this collection of a novella and three short stories first published in a slightly different version in Canada in 1993, nearly 10 years before Martel's Booker-winning Life of Pi .

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Book Reporter

In the forward of THE FACTS BEHIND THE HELSINKI ROCCAMATIOS, Yann Martel, who is best known for his novel LIFE OF PI, shares how he spent years honing his craft and writing short stories and plays, some more successful than others.

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Facts Behind the Helsinki...

Entertainment Weekly

Yann Martel's slip of a book contains just four of his pre-Life of Pi stories, but they pack a powerful punch.

Dec 03 2004 | Read Full Review of The Facts Behind the Helsinki...

Bookmarks Magazine

Ellen Shapiro Critical Summary Martel’s Booker-Prize winning Life of Pi ( 4 of 5 Stars Nov/Dec 2002) merged fact with fiction, reality with fantastical constructs as an Indian boy navigated the Pacific Ocean in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.

Jan 19 2008 | Read Full Review of The Facts Behind the Helsinki...

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Michael Manley 19 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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