The award-winning and internationally acclaimed author of the To the End of the Land now gives us a searing short novel about the life of a stand-up comic, as revealed in the course of one evening’s performance. In the dance between comic and audience, with barbs flying back and forth, a deeper story begins to take shape—one that will alter the lives of many of those in attendance.
In a little dive in a small Israeli city, Dov Greenstein, a comedian a bit past his prime, is doing a night of stand-up. In the audience is a district court justice, Avishai Lazar, whom Dov knew as a boy, along with a few others who remember Dov as an awkward, scrawny kid who walked on his hands to confound the neighborhood bullies. Gradually, as it teeters between hilarity and hysteria, Dov’s patter becomes a kind of memoir, taking us back into the terrors of his childhood: we meet his beautiful flower of a mother, a Holocaust survivor in need of constant monitoring, and his punishing father, a striver who had little understanding of his creative son. Finally, recalling his week at a military camp for youth—where Lazar witnessed what would become the central event of Dov’s childhood—Dov describes the indescribable while Lazar wrestles with his own part in the comedian’s story of loss and survival. Continuing his investigations into how people confront life’s capricious battering, and how art may blossom from it, Grossman delivers a stunning performance in this memorable one-night engagement (jokes in questionable taste included).
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Christian Science Monitor, The Economist, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and The Pittsburgh Post Gazette
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
and identity of Palestinian Israeli citizens? Based on conversations with Palestinians in Israel, David Grossman's Sleeping on a Wire, like The Yellow Wind, is essential reading for anyone trying to understand the Middle East today.
With wit and humor, The Zig Zag Kid is a novel that explores the most fundamental questions of good and evil and speaks directly to both adults and teenagers.
Originally published in Hebrew in 1983, The Smile of the Lamb is a novel of disillusionment and a piercing examination of injustice and dishonesty.
One morning, Assaf's routine is interrupted by an absurd assignment: to find the owner of a stray yellow lab. Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, Tamar, a talented young singer with a lonely, tempestuous soul, undertakes an equally unpromising mission: to rescue a teenage drug addict from the Jerusalem underworld . . . and, eventually, to find her dog.
Someone to Run With is the most popular work to date from "a writer who has been, for nearly two decades, one of the most original and talented . . . anywhere" (The New York Times Book Review), a bestseller hailed by the Israeli press (and reform politicians such as Shimon Peres) for its mixture of fairy-tale magic, emotional sensitivity, and gritty realism. The novel explores the life of Israeli street kids-whom Grossman interviewed extensively for the novel-and the anxieties of family life in a society racked by self-doubt. Most of all, it evokes the adventure of adolescence and the discovery of love, as Tamar and Assaf, pushed beyond the limits of childhood by their quests, find themselves, and each other.
The Book of Intimate Grammar is about the alchemy of childhood, which transforms loneliness and fear into creation, and about the struggle to emerge an artist. Funny, painful, and passionate, it is a work of enormous intensity and beauty.
"We could be like two people who inject themselves with truth serum, and at long last have to tell it--the truth. I want to be able to say to myself, 'I bled truth with her,' yes, that's what I want. Be a knife for me, and I, I swear, will be a knife for you."
An awkward, neurotic seller of rare books writes a desperate letter to a beautiful stranger whom he sees at a class reunion. This simple, lonely attempt at seduction begins a love affair of words between Yair and Miriam, two married, middle-aged adults, dissatisfied with their lives, yearning for the connection that has always eluded them--and, eventually, reawakened to feelings that they thought had passed them by. Their correspondence unfolds into an exchange of their most naked confessions: of desire, childhood tragedies, joys, and humiliations.
Through the dialogue between Yair--a family man and surprisingly successful adulterer, whose complex, guarded letters reveal a life of secrets kept from the people closest to him--and Miriam, at first deceptively open and warm, who fills her life with distraction to avoid a past full of painful secrets, Be My Knife explores the nature and the limits of intimacy.
A deep departure from David Grossman's previous work, Be My Knife is his subtlest, most passionate novel yet.
The book starts from the assumption that our troubles stem from failures of the imagination. Overcome by mass media, we are often too oblivious to fresh and original ideas. As DeMott states, "the right use of the constructive imagination increases the effectiveness of our energies, enables people to anticipate moves and countermoves, prevents them from becoming frozen into postures of intransigence or martyrdom which, though possessing a terrible beauty,' have as their main consequence the stiffening of resistance and the slowing of change." Supergrow is a sociological and political critique of various aspects of everyday life in America, one informed by a powerful moral sensibility and an Emersonian sense of self-reliance. DeMott takes pop culture seriously, but exhibits a refreshing unwillingness to "go with the flow" and get caught up in fashionable intellectual fads.
Graced with a new introduction by the author, Supergrow is an insightful work that is not afraid to tackle difficult subject matter. Whether discussing homosexuality, racism, popular music, or child rearing, Supergrow is well-reasoned, perceptive, and entertaining. As DeMott would hope, it will stimulate the imagination.
"Devastating, sustained, profoundly witty, resounding."--New York Times Book Review
"I didn't think it possible for a long time to come for any writer to say anything about black-and-white relations or lack of them that had freshness and pertinence. I was wrong."--Nat Hentoff, Village Voice
Benjamin DeMott is an essayist, novelist, and journalist. He was professor of English at Amherst College, and a consultant and writer for National Educational Television. He is the author of The Body's Cage, Killer Blues: Why Americans Can't Think Straight about Gender and Power, and You Don't Say, available from Transaction.