Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Book of Stoned




Readers will have no sympathy for protagonist Matthew Stone, who spends much of this novel whining and aching to be a mass murderer.

I have this habit of starting to read a book without looking at its back cover. Or in the case of an e-book quickly downloaded, I dive into the first chapter without bothering to check its description on Amazon. This habit may have been a mistake in the case of The Book of Stone by Jonathan Papernick (Fig Tree Books, May 2015).

The marketing text says this: “The Book of Stone examines the evolution of the terrorist mentality and the complexities of religious extremism, as well as how easily a vulnerable mind can be exploited for dark purposes.”

What that description doesn’t tell you is that the religious extremism is Jewish extremism and the blood-thirsty terrorists involved make Meir Kahane’s followers in the Jewish Defense League seem like kindergarten teachers.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Are Writers Certifiably Crazy?





This article is satirical and is not intended to offend anyone in the mental health community - my apologies if my humor is misunderstood.

The symptoms are getting worse. I wake up at night, my mind racing at a frantic pace, the ideas flooding me with a tidal wave of creativity. Afraid that I will forget something, I race downstairs to jot some notes so that I will remember everything in the morning. When I come to the breakfast table, I find my laptop surrounded by a sea of sticky Post-Its.

My sleepless nights might be considered a bad thing, but for me - a writer and author - they are very, very good. I write a lot in the dark hours, if you accept that coming up with ideas is a vital part of the writing process. Between these bursts of creativity, I manage to get in some actual sleep as well. As tired as I may be the next day, physically, mentally I am alert and hyper-awake.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Not a Single Clue Is Missing



"The Missing"
This is a review of a BBC television series so good, so expertly plotted, so professionally edited, and performed by such talented actors and actresses - that it is literally impossible to review.

By writing this review I run the risk of revealing a clue that would make the show just a fracture less enjoyable. If I write something here that proves to be evidence to what will happen, you will hold me responsible for kidnapping the excitement in your viewing experience.

"The Missing".

Monday, August 10, 2015

It's Getting Hot in Egypt



Alexandrian Summer – Yitzhak Gormezano Goren's 1978 novel now translated for the first time – is a nostalgic look at the life of secular bourgeois Jews in Egypt's second largest city.

It's the summer of 1951. Farouk rules as "King of Egypt and Sudan". Only in October will the Parliament cancel the treaty allowing the British to control the Suez Canal. In a year's time Gamal Abdel Nasser will overthrow the monarchy and lead Egypt into Arab nationalism. But meanwhile in cosmopolitan Alexandria, Egyptian Jews continue to enjoy a very sedate, dignified, European style of living. As they go to the track to watch the horses, or play cards and gossip, there is a growing awareness that something is about to happen.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Vanished in Gaza



Vanished, by Palestinian-British author Ahmed Masoud, takes readers into the besieged Gaza Strip where Mustafa Ouda has mysteriously disappeared.

Omar Ouda lives in London but his heart is in the Gaza Strip. That is where is house is, that is where family members still live. But his home is under fire, in danger due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and Omar must return.

But there is more that ties Omar to Gaza. His father, Mustafa Ouda, has been missing since Omar was a boy. One day Mustafa walked out of the family home, apparently after a heated argument with his wife, and the next day he was gone, vanished. Omar sets off to find his father, or at least to learn what happened to him, and that is the main theme of this short, but powerful novel.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This is Israel, in 60 Seconds

Have you been to Israel? Take a minute, just one minute, to get a quick view of what Israel is all about!



Israel - a modern country based on ancient history. Home to three of the world's major religions - this is the land where King David ruled, where Jesus preached, where the Crusaders waged their battles. Israel has sandy Mediterranean beaches, a ski resort on Mt. Hermon, and stunning deserts.

As the creators of this video state: "From parties to prayers, beaches to bicycles, visitors to Israel can look forward to an unforgettable experience… and great food.

Of course if you visit Israel, you'll see much, much more!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Sidewalk of Coexistence




A short stretch of highway links the Arab town of Abu Gosh with a recently constructed tunnel and intersection on Highway 1, the main artery between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. On the brick sidewalk alongside the road, residents of the varied communities take leisurely walks, family strolls, and exercise runs. Usually smiles are the only thing exchanged, but all realize that this particular piece of Judean Hills landscape encourages peaceful coexistence between neighbors.

Neve Ilan was founded as a moshav shitufi - a cross between a kibbutz and a moshav - by a mixed group of American, other western new immigrants, and native born Israelis. Prime Minister Golda Meir was at the ceremony marking the establishment of the new settlement, which was founded on the remains of a French kibbutz abandoned in the years following Israel's establishment.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Physics of Randomness



By chance I learned about this bestselling Bulgarian novel. The Physics of Sorrow was written by Georgi Gospodinov and just translated into English by the very talented Angela Rodel (she also translated 18% Gray by Zachary Karabashliev). The novel, in its rather unconventional format, is the story of a character inhabiting the mind of his own grandfather in real time. Shared memories. Take this sentence as an example: "A part of me shifted into someone else's body, someone else's story". And this one: "My grandfather in me cannot decide.”

It's hard to say what The Physics of Sorrow (Open Letter, English translation, April 14, 2015) is about. It's about everything and it's about nothing. And there is absolutely no connection between its random parts. Yet, the talented author does the impossible. He connects random subjects and interweaves them into a compelling, logical connectivity that captivates the reader. Or turns the reader away. This book will not appeal to everyone.