EARLY IN THE SUMMER OF 1970 by A.B. Yehoshua


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These stark short stories are more efficiently staged and paced than those in the Israeli author's last collection, Three Days and a Child (1970). In the title story, an elderly teacher, officially irrelevant to the lives of his students who are dying in the war, repeats versions of how he received the report of his own son's death. At the end of his numb journey to identify the body, he views a dead stranger. Concerned young soldiers take him to the front and there is his son, miraculously alive. The resurrection washes back upon reality, however, until it becomes clear that this is a fantasy which eases sorrow, alienation from youth, and blinding loneliness. In ""Missile Base 612,"" another academic, a middle-aged man with a barren marriage, arrives as a guest lecturer at a base from which clean, potent missiles are fired. He hopes to awaken the young soldiers, to ""penetrate the veil of lethargy. . .see them surrender."" But, accepting his uselessness, he finally leaves in silence to return to his sour domestic battles. ""The Last Commander"" takes place in a surreal desert landscape to which a company of veterans have returned for maneuvers. They are led by a man with dead eyes who compels them to sleep under a searing white sky. An official appears to rouse them to soldiering, but when he leaves the dead men sleep again. Yehoshua does not allow breathing space in his coffined vision, but his skillful mesh of reality and bad dreams in the no man's land between the war generations has a cool, metallic fascination.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1976
Publisher: Doubleday