A graceful exploration of loneliness, “their true covenant,” and the worm that gnaws at the heart of all things.

EDEN

Call it Peyton Place with Uzis: Israeli novelist Hedaya finds the worm in an exceedingly shiny apple.

Best known for writing the Israeli TV series and HBO import In Treatment, Hedaya shows a marked fascination in the way people think—or, often, fail to think. Of one character, Alona, he writes, by way of example, “Her mind had wandered to two different places, as if she were walking two dogs, each pulling in the opposite direction.” Alona has reason to be confused. Like the other residents of the gated community of Eden, a place set off from the lesser denizens of Israeli society but not entirely free of them, she’s a mess: her soon-to-be-ex-husband is always around; one of her teenage kids is a budding sexpot and boozer in training; and her other kid wallows in depression. Or maybe not. “He’s not depressed, says Mark, her estranged spouse. "On the contrary, Alona, he’s flourishing. You just can’t see it.” Mark’s got troubles of his own, but at least the Italian restaurant he recently opened “at the edge of the moshav, right in the woods, on land the council had agreed to lease to him practically for free” has a chance of surviving. Daughter Roni, on the other hand, seems bent on self-destruction, though she harbors a not-so-secret desire to get pregnant. So does Dafna, their neighbor, who has tried every method of fertilization that science has to offer. And so it is in Eden, a place of intertwining lives founded by Holocaust survivors as a socialist farming collective, now devolved into a California-style sea of one- and two-story pastel bungalows and mini-mansions, where nothing much happens—but when it does, it speaks to the baser instincts of humans. Just so, Hedaya’s novel moves from page to page without much action but with plenty of mutual misunderstanding and miscommunication—
the very stuff, in other words, of life.

A graceful exploration of loneliness, “their true covenant,” and the worm that gnaws at the heart of all things.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9265-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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