ROCKINGHORSE by Yoram Kaniuk


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Great ambition, great risks, great rewards--but each link of this ideal chain has to hold or else everything goes blooey--as it does here in what Kaniuk, in his fourth undertaking published here, clearly means to be The Great Israeli Novel. His protagonist, Aminadav Sussetz (rockinghorse, in Hebrew) is an Israeliborn painter who's lived, married, and fathered a daughter in America, yet suddenly in the mid-Sixties precipitously packs his kit and returns to Israel. Anomiefilled Aminadav arrives home to find his Germanophile father dying and his mother abrim with recriminations and clumsily-aimed love for the prodigal son. Identity shock. So, with the help of friends, Aminadav sets out to make a movie of the events leading up to his birth: ""Looking for Aminadav in the place where it hurts to be Aminadav."" This species of tumid self-regard supercharges the novel, but all the energy is negated by a choppy, thought-swirl prose. Even Richard Flantz's translation--""I shouted at her, you're messing me about""--seems inexpert. If you have the determination to peer hard enough through the fog, certain Israeli authenticities do glimmer out and instruct, but they're too little, awash in a soup of this much too much masterpiece-manquÉ.

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row