Introduction & Overview of Brazzaville Teen-ager

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Brazzaville Teen-ager Summary & Study Guide Description

Brazzaville Teen-ager Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on Brazzaville Teen-ager by Bruce Jay Friedman.

Bruce Jay Friedman's "Brazzaville Teen-ager" was first published in the author's 1966 short-story collection, Black Angels. "Brazzaville Teen-ager" differs from most of Friedman's works, which emphasize the Jewishness of their characters. In this story, the ethnicity of the protagonist, Gunther, as well as of the other characters, remains undefined. Most of Friedman's fiction, including this story, has been characterized as black humor, a twentieth century term coined by Friedman himself. Black comedies tend to involve neurotic, inept characters in modern settings, where they face comic and often absurd predicaments. In "Brazzaville Teen-ager," Gunther, a young man who is unable to communicate with his stoic father, feels he has a chance to break this communication barrier when his father gets seriously ill. Gunther believes that if he performs an illogical, embarrassing act - in this case, getting his boss to sing backup for a doo-wop band - it will help his father recover.

The doo-wop band was one of many forms of popular music in the 1960s, which also included the Motown sound, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. The 1960s was also a serious era, as the United States became increasingly involved in Vietnam. The story mentions one such conflict, in the doo-wop song, "Brazzaville Teen-ager," where a teen accompanies his father into the war-torn Republic of Congo. Gunther's efforts to reconnect with his father ultimately fail, leading some critics to believe that the story is pointless. Friedman does use the story to explore the ideas of miscommunication, fear, and irrationality, and seems to imply that serious situations cannot be solved through frivolous solutions. The story can be found in the paperback version of The Collected Short Fiction of Bruce Jay Friedman, which was published by Grove Press in 1997.

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