Stefan Kiesbye | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Stefan Kiesbye

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Small presses have been putting out some really good books lately, and it's often hard for them to get noticed, but Stefan Kiesbye deserves whatever hype can be scrounged for his debut novella, Next Door Lived a Girl (Low Fidelity Press). Set in small-town working-class Germany following World War II, it follows 12-year-old Moritz and his gang, the Badgers, as they do what unsupervised boys do: battle their enemies, the Foxes; spy on the neighbors having sex; explore spooky abandoned bunkers (metaphor alert!) full of snakes. Kiesbye, who was born in Germany, appears to know his material well. His confident, understated language keeps the suspenseful story believable despite the undercurrent of cruelty and violence. And though it's a bleak tale (and particularly disturbing regarding the titular girl), there's hope for Moritz--if he's lucky--at the end. Fri 1/28, 8 PM, Quimby's, 1854 W. North, 773-342-0910.

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