The Yellow Wind (Grossman)

I have to give Grossman credit here. He did simply pontificate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He makes the conflict human by talking to those it impacts directly. At times, it seems like he must have taken incredible risks to do so, but he does not call attention to his efforts. Instead, he lets the people speak. There are few digressions in history or whatever might be called the bigger picture. He simply lets the people speak and positions himself as a recorder or perhaps interviewer (at most). And the picture, and this book was published in 1988, is not only not good, it is complicated and not good.

Part of the argument here reminds me (in both its content and its truth) of the argument made about slavery. We know (within limits) what being a slave did to people. What did being a slaveholder do to a person? We see here what being occupied does to individuals. The men and, it seems, teens sleeping in a warehouse because they can’t deal with the border on a regular basis, will haunt me. And what, Grossman asks (and I took myself as a part of the audience for this question) does being part of an occupying force do to a person?

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Autumn (Smith)

I know this is being hailed as the first post-Brexit novel, and it does a great job of that. It is also a remarkable love story and continues Smith’s pattern of redefining time and language. I understand this is the first of a quartet – all based on the seasons – and I can’t wait for the rest. There is not much to say here. It is a complete and total masterpiece.

The Power and the Glory (Greene)

This was an incredibly atmospheric read. I got the sense that there was always a constant drizzle and that people moved slowly, sometimes because of the heat and sometimes because there was no hurry to get to the limited places they could go. On one level, this book represents one of the slowest chase scenes in literary history. Somehow, I was profoundly engaged by the book, with its thoughtful contemplation of power and glory in all of their political, economic, military and religious (okay, especially religious) forms. The writing is dense and profound, the characters are fully human, and there are many memorable scenes. This is one worth reading and re-reading.

Man’s Search for Meaning (Frankl)

I mean, you can’t really argue with a Holocaust survivor when he writes about suffering, can you? And much of what Frankl says here makes sense, and his examples are compelling. Still, when he extrapolates a form of theory based on his experiences, I had more questions. Still, this thoughtful book packs a powerful punch, and I’d be interested in re-reading it and discussing it further. Unlike the others I took on a recent trip, I hung on to this one.

The Orange Peel and Other Satires (Agnon)

I was curious about Agnon because I learned he was a Nobel Prize winner. I enjoyed these satires. I think I ‘got’ most of them. Still, I wondered whether an author who was not Jewish could have written such things. Though Agnon seems to be hugely popular in Israel (they sell boxed sets), I am not particularly interested in reading more.

Thirteen Days in September: The Dramatic Story of the Struggle for Peace (Wright)

Perhaps it’s because I remember when this happened that I found Wright’s book very compelling. As in The Looming Tower, Wright creates a strong and balanced narrative. It is quite a thing to provide depth and nuance to public figures like Carter, Sadat, and Begin, but Wright does just that. He also incorporates a good balance of history to enable the reader to understand the origin of the points of dispute. Just a remarkable story of a remarkable accomplishment. Normally, I’m no fan of psychological arguments about historical events, but I think it works here.

The Man Who Wanted to Know (Mishani)

This is my second Mishani mystery. I like his work – his flair for complex endings. I also think he creates effective and balanced female characters.

(Sorry there’s not more. I finished it on a trip and left it behind.)