Yehudit Hendel, Author, Lily Rattok, Foreword by , trans. from the Hebrew by Dalia Bilu, Barbara Harshav and Marsha Pomerantz. Univ. of New England/Brandeis $19.95 (142p) ISBN 978-1-58465-279-3

Plumbing the experience of old age in contemporary Israel, esteemed Israeli writer Hendel's eloquent if sometimes confusing collection centers on elderly characters confronting mortality and loneliness. A man is paralyzed with indecision when it come to choosing his burial ground in "Low, Close to the Floor"—he doesn't know whether to be buried next to his first wife or his second. In "A Story With No Address," a nameless, unidentified woman has a heart attack at a street corner after a minor, typically urban altercation with a stranger. She dies alone, while the shaken narrator who witnessed her collapse is left wondering what happened to the woman's dog. In "Fata Morgana Across the Street," a woman foolishly cherishes a parasol as a memento of a one-night stand. The stories are psychologically complex and subtle, but they are sometimes cluttered with too many shifting perspectives and narrative tangents. The title story, which follows an elderly bus driver and his paranoid daughter who lands in a foreign jail, is crowded with the personal reflections and observations of the narrator and neighbors. In "The Letter That Came in Time," an account of a conversation after a man's funeral, the narrator plays a pivotal role in the plot, but the relationship between him and the other main character, the widow Mikela, is never explained. The overall effect is almost like reading a diary—the glimpses of ordinary private lives are not always adequately set up, yet they resonate with loss, disappointment and rich, raw emotion. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 12/01/2002
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