Page 86 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

Basic HTML Version

78
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
already made popular by such writers as A.B. Yehoshua and
David Grossman. This technique affords the benefit of multiple
perspective; one thing is viewed by different people, who bring
various perspectives, experiences and histories to this percep­
tion. The reader can then know more about the subject, or,
at least, realize that he can never know all, as that “all” is an
elusive and perhaps a non-existent entity. The “all” is precisely
this sort of polyphony, various and changing.
Basically, of course, this experimentation in narrative is
forged precisely to capture a given reality more precisely, and
so involve multiple means. Reality is complex beyond our imag­
inative grasp, as it is almost infinite (the “almost” is used ad­
visedly, as literally infinite would induce despair and render
fictional representation pointless). Fictional experimentation at­
tempts to come to terms with this range, and offer suggestive
models.
The multiple monologue form of presentation allows the au­
thor certain advantages. We have mentioned the polyphonic
quality, the rainbow perspective. There is also the immediacy
of reaction; we are plunged into the heart of the action and
reaction, into the unmediated feeling world of the speaker/s.
Through the words of the soldier Holi we perceive the un re­
strained hatred of the Arab. It is a hatred of violence that forms
a counter violence. He has become a Left-hating, sadistic anti-
Palestinian. The reader is plunged into the heart of ugly in­
cidents, which he can then see from the point of view of the
“perpetrator.”
The starting point of the novel is the killing of an Arab child,
a child who had been attached to an Israeli army company as
a sort of “mascot.” Various moral positions are adopted, both
by the speakers in the novel and by others mentioned. But one
thing always brings them back and focuses their concern. It
is the first speaker. Holi is the concern of all of them. The
father, Oded, the second speaker, is totally obsessed, although
his language is more weighed and less frantic than his son’s.
He is a doctor, interested in dialogue with the Arabs. But Holi
remains not only the focus but the puzzle. He is the archetypal
outsider, rejected by the group and self-rejecting. He makes
himself incommunicado by the stench that he creates around
himself. He insists on his personal freedom and his right of