Page 68 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
sonalized th rough his paren ts , in the new env ironm en t o f
Australia. Tha t maladjustment stems from the contrast between
a warm romanticized, but forever lost, past and a hard alien pres­
ent. Tha t maladjustment, too, is transmitted to Lurie, but in him
rather than being primarily one o f physical uprootedness and the
loss o f something precious, it becomes a personal, existential
alienation.
VARIED THEMES
T rue , Lurie has a much wider repertoire o f material than is
here suggested. He is seen to sympathize with a m u rde rer in a
mining town. He warms to the antics o f father and son out-
boozing, out-womanizing and out-fighting each o ther on the
Great Barrier Reef. He smiles indulgently at a young couple ma­
niacally amassing a palace o f antiques. He mocks, however
gently, the nouveau riche who are into every latest fad, from
meditation, yoga, and Hindu breathing through conservation-
ism, anti-pollution and Tibetan recipes for yoghurt. But for all
that, it is Lurie himself, as writer and as a person who domintes
the pages. His writing is always energetic, highly visual, swift,
sometimes even hypomanic. It moves with its large dose of irony,
pathos and humor. But that humor, when he turns it inward
upon himself or his family, has a tendency ever to veer towards
the black, the bitter, and the angry.
The name o f Lilian Barnea, born in pre-War Warsaw, first
came to public attention through two very powerful stories in­
cluded in the anthology o f Australian Jewish stories
Shalom,
com­
piled by Nancy Keesing and published in 1978. A year later, her
Reported Missing
(1979) saw publication. In tone, content, setting
and imagery, it owes nothing to Australian (or, for that matter, to
Australian Jewish) literature. It is uncompromisingly and palpa­
bly Israeli, very much in tune with some contemporary Israeli fic­
tion.
The story is set at the time o f the Arab-Israeli War o f 1973. It
tells o f the wife o f an American physicist on sabbatical in Israel
and a mother o f two who has a love affair with a young Israeli.
This Israeli is subsequently called up for service and disappears
— killed or captured — on the Golan Heights. The book then
details the persona l and emotional crises the woman lives
through as she engages in neurotic hopes for her lover’s re tu rn .