A horse walks into a bar by David Grossman

A horse walks into a bar by David Grossman

Israeli fiction

Original title – סוס אחד נכנס לְבָּר

Translator – Jessica Cohen

Source – personnel copy

I have been a fan of David Grossman for a while now and have reviewed his books twice before on the blog. Grossman has seen his books translated into more than 30 languages and has won many lit and other prizes .he has published over twenty novels and children’s books as well as plays and this is his latest book to be translated into english and like the previous two I have reviewed it is again translated by Jessica Cohen

“I want you to come to my show “he said on the phone after finally breaking pleasant recollections from our twice weekly walks from Bayit Va’gan to the bus that took me home to Talpiot. He talked about those walks with great enthusiasm; “It was a real friendship we started there; he said a couple of times and giggled with bemused happiness. We’d walk and talk for ages. Walkie talkie friendship; he continued, reminiscing in great detail, as though that brief friendship was the best thing that had ever happened to him

A chance call and Avishai get a call to see the show that particular night .

does what it says in the title in a way it is a story of a a joke and a comedian. We meet Dovaleh g an aging comedian , but in the audience are two of his dearest friends are in the audience this is a man setting his life in front of his audience the story of his life in a stand up show and how they end up here and how they are able to take Dovaleh show that is bad not just bad  it’s offence at times , our narrator one of the two friend there a retired judge wonders where the night is going and why his friend is doing this whince at the lines and what has the small woman he keeps drawing into his story and of friendship truth and having to make decisions that have a lasting effect on all those around you this is more than a man on stage in crisis this is a story that can face all making decisions at times .

“These kind of things are done quietly and quickly in our system.Three or four months and the whole hing was over” I laughed “You see, sometimes the wheels of justice do turn quickly.”

He didn’t respond. I was a little disappointed at my inability to make a comedian laugh.

“Every time I saw your name somewhere; he said “I would remember how we were, and I was interested in what you were doing,where you were. I wondered if you even remembered me. I watched you climb he ladder and I was really happy for you honestly ”

The two share banter but it is a deep cut and past he has brought him here to remember !

As ever Grossman is a writer of the most powerful of human feeling and is maybe using the stand up as a character to look back on a life maybe not his but some one of his generation there is five years between him and the comedians age. This is one of those books that need time to dissect it is full of bad jokes and bad feelings as the night turns nasty but he is scratching the surface of real life and how many people say one thing and think another ! A book about deep wounds and also maybe about what happens when pain is buried as ever Grossman is a writer of true brilliance not an easy read but a lasting read.

Have you read Grossman ?

 

Falling out of time by David Grossman

Falling out of time by David Grossman

Hebrew Fiction

Original title –נופל מחוץ לזמן 

Translator Jessica Cohen

Source – Library

 

 

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on,
‘Cause I know I don’t belong
Here in heaven.

I was struck by this song the first time I heard it the same way I was with this book Eric clapton’s Tears in Heaven is also about the loss of a son

I’ve review a book by David Grossman before his wonderful book from a few years ago To the end of the land , which I really enjoyed so when I saw he had a new book out and it had made a few end of year lists including Boyd Tonkin (usually an early sign for the IFFP prize ) .I decide it was time to read a book by him again .Since I last reviewed him , he has been involved in protests about the further settlements in Israeli where he was actually beaten by the police .He lost his own son in 2008 how like most Israelis was serving his military service and was killed in the line of action at just 20 ! .Like the earlier book this one looks at the Grief ,but in a different way .

Woman :

The earth

Gaped open.

gulped us

and disgorged

Don’t go back

There , do not go ,

not even one step

out of the light

Man :

I could not , I dared not

look into your eye,

that eye of

madness ,

into your noneness

a the start when he mentions going home .

Falling into time is one of those books that is hard to pigeonhole in many ways as it is rather like a play with characters names and what they said , but then like a poem with rhyme and rhythm to the words spoke by each of the characters , then there is a story in their as well .The book follows a man and woman as the walk to the place where their son died , as they go along they gather up more people each telling of their own losses along the way almost like a chorus building a nation of stories of sons and children lost as the town they live in comes together in some sort of collective grief as the town all starts to walk along the man and woman .

Walkers :

But they are so

alive ! they flicker

with flash of smiles

with questioning and sorrow ,

as if those longing , desperate faces

wish to try out

every last expression

one more time,

to thereby taste

the potency

of plundered feelings ,

The collective walkers in the story talking as one about the dead .

Now I said hard to place this book the nearest two books to it I can think of are under Milkwood , which is shares a spoken feel  to the words  , this book is one that probably work  best if read a loud to get the full power of Grossman’s prose .The other book I was reminded of was Mr Darwin’s garden that came out a couple of years ago from Peirene press anoother book of voices again set in a small town like this book and like this it also built as the book went along .But unlike them there is little about the place they are in or where they are this is a book about grieving for a son a daughter a bother husband wife etc .Another feeling is almost the words go back to be almost like the words we all know from prayers or bibles with a feeling of repetition to hammer the words and their meaning home to use as the reader  .Heartfelt is what I came away with from the book a real feel of a writer pouring out on the page what he must have felt be feeling since the loss of his own son .But what he has also done with the lack of place and time has turned the grieving into universal grieving so the parents could even be Arab ! .

have you a favourite read about Grief and Death ?

 

 

June 2021
M T W T F S S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Archives

%d bloggers like this: