A Bar in Brooklyn: Novellas & Stories
Black Sparrow Press, 1999
"Older exiles who, as myself, had come here without speaking a word of English, guarded their simple secrets carefully because their vampiric ambitions depended on them... I had to go it alone, something I have a horror of." A Bar in Brooklyn collects Codrescu's shorter fiction of the 1970s.
"The 53-year-old poet, essayist, novelist and National Public Radio personality has here collected the first fiction he published in America after immigrating from Romania in 1966. It shows a restless imagination wrestling with, and liberated by, America and the English language. The results are frankly surrealistic and occasionally masterly. In the novella ''Monsieur Teste in America'' (first published in The Paris Review in 1975), a 29-year-old immigrant invites his mentor from the old country to help him find his way in the new land. In ''Samba de los Agentes,'' a Colombian immigrant is fired from the New York City police force and becomes a filmmaker, then a poet and novelist, while living with his mother and two sisters, both of whom are prostitutes. In ''Three Simple Hearts,'' a man and two women (with two children in tow) take off on an eroticized cross-country road trip. But these narratives and the other stories collected here are mere armatures on which Codrescu can explode one metaphor after another, discoursing freely on the anxieties of art and exile, literary and immigration agents and, of course, sex and death. Monsieur Teste is turned into a potbellied stove that burns reason and logic; Dracula is revealed to be the ''the father of the modern state and the inventor of nationalism;'' and American democracy is shown to be founded, literally, on the butchering and consumption of its own. There's also a brilliant apologia for fat cops. But Codrescu's comic indulgences can be exhausting, and the shorter pieces are truly slight." - John Garelick, The New York TImes