Rhyming Life and Death
Amos Oz, , trans. from the Hebrew by Nicolas de Lange. . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23 (117pp) ISBN 978-0-15-101367-8
From the prodigious Oz comes a delightfully elusive if slight story of imagination, talent and the transitory nature of fame. The novella takes place over the course of a suffocatingly hot evening, narrated by an unnamed writer who whiles away his time at a Tel Aviv cafe a few hours before a dreaded reading. As he meditates on the inevitably asinine questions attendees will ask, he concocts stories about those around him. There is Ricky, the pretty waitress who is heartbroken over her first love, football-playing Charlie, who left her for a beauty pageant runnerup. Later, at the reading, he imagines that his listeners include a trade union hack and a low-ranking activist. As the night winds down with an awkward romantic entanglement with Rochele Reznik, a professional reader, he continues to revisit and expand upon the scenarios he has created. Woven throughout are rhymes by a local poet who was once quite beloved, but now the author cannot even recall if he is still alive. Stamped with Oz’s charm and graceful skill in creating rich characters, this is a must for any fan.
Reviewed on: 01/26/2009