Monday, October 11, 2010

WRITING IN THE DARK by David Grossman

Like David Grossman's fiction, this slim (130 pages) volume of essays and speeches is highly intelligent and deeply moving. It may also be the most beautiful 'writer on writing' book that I've ever read. (Some of the credit for this must go to Jessica Cohen, who translates gorgeously from the original Hebrew.) The first essay, "Books That Have Read Me," is an overview of Grossman's career as reader and writer (through Be My Knife) and a wonderful introduction to this world-class novelist's works and themes. The second piece, "The Desire to be Gisella," is a profound aesthetic statement that is also, inevitably, a political one. Indeed, one of the persistent themes of this collection is the troubling and inextricable intertwining of art and politics, a duality that too often tragically translates into "life and death." The moment of the more pointedly political pieces collected here has passed, but the continuing tragedy that is Israeli and Palestinian politics renders them still sadly relevant. Overall, this is a book to be read and re-read, a brilliant statement of engaged secular humanism, and an essential work for anyone who admires the novels of this future Nobel laureate. (Place your bets now...)

1 comment:

Lane Eliezer said...

Yeah? Grossman over Oz? Read the latter's memoir, found it really boring and altogether poor, and won't touch his fiction. But apparently he's really popular.

I also have personal biases: as a Jew thoroughly entrenched in--and loving--exile, I take issue with their prescriptive stances regarding Jewish identity. Both have said things akin to "Israel fulfills a Jew's life" or some shit. Which is strange, because I bet I am considerably more religious than they are.

In summation: fuck 'em. I like Etgar Keret.