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Old 12-04-2013, 02:27 AM   #16
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We have waved goodbye to the painters, got the house back into some sort of order and I am now back with Amos Oz.

The writing is wonderful:

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Now you can hear the full depths of the desert silence. It isn't the quiet before the storm, nor the silence of the end of the world, but a silence that only covers another, even deeper, silence. I stand there for three or four minutes inhaling silence like a smell. (Page 294.)
As is the wisdom:

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In the lives of individuals and of peoples, too, the worst conflicts are often those that break out between those who are persecuted. It is mere wishful thinking to imagine that the persecuted and the oppressed will unite out of solidarity and man the barricades together against a ruthless oppressor. In reality, two children of the same abusive father will not necessarily make common cause, brought close together by their shared fate. Often each sees in the other not a partner in misfortune but in fact the image of their common oppressor.

That may well be the case with the hundred-year-old conflict between Arabs and Jews. (Pages 329-30.)
His harrowing descriptions of what happened after the UN vote certainly helps me to understand better the later history of Israeli/Arab conflict.

I feel privileged to be reading this man's experiences and thoughts.
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Old 12-08-2013, 05:21 PM   #17
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I finished this book yesterday and my slowness was because I didn't want to be interrupted while I was reading rather than because it was hard work or uninteresting.

I rated it five stars on Goodreads. Even though you know all the way through about his mother, the final section was quite devastating to read. I am still getting over the pain of it - as of course is Amos Oz.
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Old 12-08-2013, 05:56 PM   #18
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It was a five-star read for me, also.

I loved his style, the imagerie, the indirection, the convolutedness (if that's a word), even the repetition. And it clicked when he invoked Winesburg, Ohio, at the end. He was bringing all those people back to life, tics and all.

I also was fascinated by his bug's eye view of independence and the suggestion of how he arrived at his current two-state position, with understanding and compassion for the Palestinians.

This was easily one of the best books I've read this year; nor is it the only Lit Club selection this year to make my personal ten best list.
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:40 AM   #19
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I found the incident when Amos listened to the speech of Begin quite incredible! The "Hero" becomes an unwitting fool because he does not speak the language of his audience. The whole experience leaves the "fiercely nationalistic child" open to deeper considerations which we find in the discussion with Ephraim.
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Old 12-15-2013, 04:08 AM   #20
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I am still getting over the pain of it - as of course is Amos Oz.
same here!

I loved this book! I have to admit I had to grind through the first 27 chapters - this were of course very personal memories, but I could not empathize with the long lists of names which were nothing more than lists of names, with I am sure a lot of meaning for Oz, but which left me clueless. It felt like a private diary more than a memoir. Then, more or less coinciding with the end of Aunt Sonia's recollections, something clicked for me, the style changed, we got much more into the tragedy of Oz's family and of the war of independence, and it just grabbed me.

Towards the end I found Oz's opening up on such intimate sorrow almost pornographically obscene: just give me a warning, what if I don't want to know, what if I don't want to watch your personal world disintegrate?! And he is forensic in exploring feelings, but does so in such a beautiful writing, what is there not to like? Wonderful, haunting book.

There is humour, too, and when Amos and his dad go planting on their kriptonite hard "patch" I just could not stop laughing. Yet when I hit the family picture, a lump made itself very comfy in my throat...
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Old 12-15-2013, 06:16 AM   #21
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Yes, it was a jolt to turn the page of the book and see the photograph at that stage. It really brought home the tragedy of that little family.

I know what you mean about all the names in the early part, paola. They would no doubt mean a lot more to Jewish readers, especially the references to writers and academics. I just put it down to my lack of knowledge of Jewish culture and "went with the flow".
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Old 12-15-2013, 11:41 AM   #22
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I was sucked in from the beginning. For me, it was almost Homeric, being plunged in medias res, and made Jerusalem in the 40s virtually palpable. As I said above, the Aunt Sonia narration was my least favorite part of the book, as I missed Oz's voice sardonic take on people and events.

And to invoke Virgil in turn, sunt lacrimae rerum, indeed. So much sadness, with the tragedies of that tiny family seen against the background of the infinite tragedy of the Holocaust and the yet-to-be resolved war with the Arabs.

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I found the incident when Amos listened to the speech of Begin quite incredible! The "Hero" becomes an unwitting fool because he does not speak the language of his audience. The whole experience leaves the "fiercely nationalistic child" open to deeper considerations which we find in the discussion with Ephraim.
This event, and the one where he crushed the foot of the Arab boy! The immediacy of the retelling was excruciating. I can't think of two better examples of Finagle's Law. But both experiences deepened and matured him, as he lived and relived them--very unlike the time he saw his father with another woman, something he immediately repressed and then repressed again, for years.

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Old 12-15-2013, 05:41 PM   #23
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I also was fascinated by his bug's eye view of independence and the suggestion of how he arrived at his current two-state position, with understanding and compassion for the Palestinians.
indeed - I was unaware of the feelings towards "ghetto Jews", which did throw me back a lot, although the first shock came towards the beginning, with Mr Million Kinder
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Apart from all these, there were the refugees, the sur*vivors, whom we gen*er*ally treated with com*pas*sion and a cer*tain re*vul*sion: mis*er*able wretches, was it our fault that they chose to sit and wait for Hitler in*stead of com*ing here while there was still time? Why did they allow them*selves to be led like sheep to the slaugh*ter in*stead of or*ga*niz*ing and fighting back? And if only they'd stop nat*ter*ing on in Yid*dish, and stop telling us about all the things that were done to them over there, be*cause that didn't re*flect too well on them, or on us for that mat*ter.
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Old 12-15-2013, 06:00 PM   #24
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indeed - I was unaware of the feelings towards "ghetto Jews", which did throw me back a lot, although the first shock came towards the beginning, with Mr Million Kinder
Thank you for quoting that! I meant to copy and didn't.

When we read Stefan Zweig earlier this year, I was interested in Peter Gay's introduction to Chess Story (also because I took a wonderful class with him on 19th century European bourgeoisie in college). That led me to read his memoir, My German Question, which addressed just that issue: why didn't more Jews leave. His family just barely managed it.

I also was shocked by that quote; Jews blaming other Jews for what happened to them!
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Old 12-16-2013, 03:56 AM   #25
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When we read Stefan Zweig earlier this year, I was interested in Peter Gay's introduction to Chess Story (also because I took a wonderful class with him on 19th century European bourgeoisie in college). That led me to read his memoir, My German Question, which addressed just that issue: why didn't more Jews leave. His family just barely managed it.
oh no, another one for my TBR! And even Amos Oz mentions (among others) Stefan Zweig so many times that I think I should not let my impression of Chess stop me from reading more from him. EDIT: I see now you are referring to Gays' biography

Incidentally, I am quite jealous of the freedom Anglophone universities give to students (even more so with the US style four years education) - no chance of straddling away from your discipline in my part of the world, which is really sad.

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Old 01-23-2014, 03:12 PM   #26
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Finished - at last! I quite enjoyed the book but reading has become a bit of a chore for me, hence the slowness. I'm having a break from the bookclubs for a while but plan to catch up with all the nominations later in the year when I've got back to loving my reading time.
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Old 01-23-2014, 04:48 PM   #27
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We'll miss you Steph, but have a good break and you know you will be welcome back whenever you feel like it.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:10 AM   #28
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We'll miss you Steph, but have a good break and you know you will be welcome back whenever you feel like it.
Thank you, I'm sure I'll pop in from time to time and will definitely be back, I think I need a break from reading to a time schedule (even if it is self-imposed!).
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