The twenty-two stories in this collection, set mostly in Eastern Europe during World War II, depict a world fraught with conflict and chaos. Theodore Odrach is witness to the horrors that surround him, and as both an investigative journalist and a skilful storyteller, using humor and irony, he guides us through his remarkable narratives. His writing style is clean and spare, yet at the same time compelling and complex. There is no short supply of triumph and catastrophe, courage and cowardice, good and evil, as they impact the lives of ordinary people.
In “Benny’s Story”, a group of prisoners fight to survive despite horrific circumstances; in “Lickspittles”, the absurdity of an émigré writer’s life is highlighted; in “Blood”, a young man travels to a distant city in search of his lost love; in “Whistle Stop”, two German soldiers fight boredom in an out-of-the-way outpost, only to see their world crumble and fall.
First published in 1959 as Pivstanok Za Selom by Julian Serediak Press in Buenos Aires, Argentina, added to this collection are also stories found still in manuscript form. Eight pieces were previously published in literary magazines in Canada and the U.S.