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April 11, 1986 - Image 100

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-04-11

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100 Friday, April 11, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

BOOKS

Amos Oz' Perfect Peace
Adds To Israeli Catalogue

BY JOSEPH COHEN

Special to The Jewish News

are classic in their real and im-
If you were to ask anyone to
list Israel's most important ex- agined treachery.
In their youth in the 1930s,
ports, the likelihood of its novels
being included in a catalogue of Yolek kept Hava from living out
products for foreign consumption a fantasy with a love-crazed
would be fairly remote. No one Russian, Benya Trotsky. Spur-
would think to mention them. red by his insane jealousy,
Yet, like Swiss watches, Israel's Trotsky shot up the kibbutz one
novels have a built-in quality night with an antique revolver,
which makes them especially at- managing to miss all his targets
tractive. That is certainly the including the kibbutz' only bull
case with Amos Oz' new novel, and himself. Trotsky abandoned
the kibbutz but not before he
A Perfect Peace. It strikes me as had put Yonatan's paternity
an Israeli export of surpassing
into question.
worth.
The "Trotsky Factor" reap-
A Perfect Peace is on a par
with Yehuda Amichai's best pears a generation later. Dis-
poems and short stories, and the enchanted with his strong-willed
novels of Oz' popular contem- father, Yonatan decides to leave
poraries, Aaron Appelfeld and the kibbutz altogether. He in-
A. B. Yehoshua. He shares in vites a newly arrived, young
common, particularly with idealist, Azariah Gitlin, to move
Amichai and Yehoshua, an in with him and his wife,
understanding of the pervasive Rimona. The result is that the
impact of the • desert on the paternity of Rimona's third child
people who live in its midst. It is also undetermined. Yonatan
is unconcerned about the men-
is a singularly powerful force.
Oz knows the desert well. Its
peculiar mystique suffuses his
book. The shifting sands and
wadis come alive and function
as yet another character, in
much the same way that the
city of Alexandria plays a living
role in Lawrence Durrell's age a trois he has established, as
Alexandria Quartet. Through its he prepares to leave in search of
shifting, shimmering lures, the a perfect peace. Seeking sur-
desert beckons to all. Both those cease for his own soul, his
who hearken to these summons leave-taking is designed partly
'and those who resist them are to punish his father and partly
beset by madness.
to atone for his (Yonatan's) sins
Indeed, the arteries and the in having coerced Rimona into
veins of A Perfect Peace are fil- aborting her first child, which
led with a throbbing, pulsating led to the stillbirth later of a
madness. Its origins are located second one.
in the socialist dreams of the
The perfect peace Yonatan
inhabitants of Kibbutz Granot, really wants is death. He leaves
settlers in Palestine from pre- without a word in the middle of
Holoctlust Eastern Europe, who the night, disappearing into the
set out as pioneers to reclaim Negev, determined to slip into
the land. They sacrificed every- the fabled long-abandoned rose-
thing to succeed, and in succeed- tinted city of Petra. He knows
ing they created not only a all too well that marauding
model socialist farming commu- Arabs living- in the desert
nity but a monstrous obsession wastes will track, catch, vilely
which consumed them and torture and kill him once he has
alienated their children. This crossed into Trans-Jordan. Like
madness manifests itself in mar- Geoffrey Firmin in Malcolm
ital strife and generational con- Lowry's Under the Folcano,
flict. Out of these discords come Yonatan moves relentlessly
massive quantities of guilt. It through the final hours of his
propels the problems of the pro- life, passionately copulating
tagonist and his family into our with a whore before walking
consciousness so thoroughly we toward his self-ordained trap.
are soon totally absorbed by But while Firmin goes to his
them. They break against our death, Yonatan at the final
cerebral shores with all the dis- moment comes to his senses in a
ruptive fury of an unexpected, marvelous scene in the desert
intense migraine headache.
shooting his gun wildly — the
At the center of that migraine Trotsky factor again — before
is Yolek Lifshitz, the kibbutz turning back, choosing life.
Tha rising action of the novel
secretary, a founder, a member
of the Knesset, and a legendary with its dramatic climax is su-
hero mentioned in the same perbly controlled by Oz. The
breath with Ben Gurion and book's negative impact, oc-
Levi Eshkol — the novel is set casioned by its various in-
in the mid-1960s when Eshkol sanities, is greatly ameliorated
was prime minister. Now aging by the astuteness of the author's
and sick, Yolek is, on the one insight into the Israeli psyche
hand, assailed by his own which requires that the' story be
doubts about his life and princi- grounded in reality rather than
ples, while, on the other hand, romance. The kibbutz is trans-
he is subjected to the bitter formed by the insistence on

Remember the
11th Commandment:

"And Thou
Shalt be
Informed"

,12.73;%•; N.04.

'Y

NN

-

1 .

"A Perfect Peace" by
Amos Oz. Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich.

(11
y

1

You've read the
five books of
Moses. Isn't it
time to try the
Fifty-Two Issues
of the Detroit
Jewish News? It
may not be
holy, but it's
weekly! And
such a bargain.
To order your
own subscription
call 354-6060.

tirades of his wife Hava, and the
disheartening defection of his
son, Yonatan, who rejects his
way of life and authority. The
battles between husband and
wife and between father and son

Ntitititriii.JVAIMAAJtHiesalikimItsIalibeWs wave ******* e•is eras•sqrairalerare airvri...teil I

11 :4'

realism into a.microcosm of the
universal human condition.
In dealing with the human
condition, Oz shows himself to
be a master of narrative
strategies.

/10PI.4

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