Monday, April 28, 2008

Stories Can End

Many years ago -- 10 or 11, at least -- I read The Book of Intimate Grammar by Israeli novelist David Grossman. I've been meaning to read more of him ever since, especially his most acclaimed book, See Under: Love. Grossman's been in the news in recent years for terrible reasons -- his 20-year-old son, Uri, a soldier, was killed in 2006 in Lebanon.

I'm eager to read Grossman's newest novel, which was begun before Uri's death and involves a mother waiting to hear news of her soldier son's fate, but I'll have to wait until it's translated. For now, Grossman is profiled and occasionally quoted in a compelling piece about Israel's fate by Jeffrey Goldberg in the latest issue of The Atlantic. Here is one of his appearances:
“If you see the tendencies of fanaticism, the way in which at every crossroads both sides almost always choose the more violent approach, if you see the fact that other religions, parts of the West, never really accept the idea of Israel . . . It means something deep about us (and even more about everyone else), about Judaism and the state that we are still in, after 60 years of sovereignty—we have not accomplished statehood, the realization that this is a legitimate state. And we have a lack of confidence in our own existence. We also don’t really believe in our own existence. We have the formal symptoms of a normal state, but we still do not believe we are a state. Throughout history we were regarded, and we regarded ourselves, as a larger-than-life story, since the time of the Bible. We’re a story that other nations read and borrow. But if you are a story, you can end."


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