Peerless Israeli storyteller Oz presents 18 months in the life of painfully self-contained Yoel Raviv, retired from the Israeli Secret Service and trying to escape the ghosts of his professional life and his dead wife—a woman he's still struggling to know. Bedeviled by memories of his wife Ivria, accidentally electrocuted in his absence on business in Helsinki; of his servitude to agency contact Yirmiyahu Cordovero ("Le Patron"); and of an obsessively recurring series of frozen images—the statue of a cat mysteriously springing free of its base; the figure of Edgar Linton from Wuthering Heights; a wheelchair-bound beggar; a copy of Mrs. Dalloway left behind in Helsinki—Yoel reacts in two conflicting ways. Frantic to be left alone, he changes his name, retreats to a new house in a Tel Aviv suburb, and refuses a posting to Bangkok. At the same time, he reaches out equally frantically to his strong-willed, epileptic daughter Netta, about to be conscripted, and to his quarreling mother and mother-in-law, by asking them all to live with him; he also begins a robotic friendship with real-estate agent Arik Krantz and an equally passive love affair with next-door neighbor Annemarie Vermont, shepherded by her oppressively approving bother Ralph. Floating through this tangle of relationships, Yoel keeps telling himself that things will work out, that tomorrow is another day, but he's wrong—as he sees when his mother and Netta's lover Duby Krantz tell him off for his inability to accept people without controlling them, and when he's unable to get forgiven by the father of the agent killed in Bangkok in his place. Slowly, slowly, Oz thaws out his likable, paralyzed hero and returns him to provisional membership in the human race. A meditative third-person confessional of hauntingly quiet power—and a treasure for readers who think contemporary novels carry too much plot.

Pub Date: March 7, 1991

ISBN: 15-190499-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet