I knocked off the People of the Deer in a day and a half. Say what you will about Farley Mowat’s politics but give the man his due. Not only can he tell a story but he engages the reader in ways few living writers ever manage to accomplish. I would have finished sooner but I found catering to the tribe’s need got in the way of my reading, and then, Wally Lamb’s new book logjamed my reading list like a big fat beached whale.
I really liked his two previous books and I was really looking forward to the time spent sitting by the wood stove reading this book. I should never have bothered, but once in, I was determined to finish it. There was just no way I was going to lug this mammoth book back to Toronto with me. Half-way through though the idea of reading the Red Deer phone book was starting to look as a viable alternative to finishing this book. I finally finished it last night and I am full of nothing but regret. I regret that I bought this book, I regret that I started this book, I regret the giant black hole of time reading this book consumed, but mostly I regret, I didn’t heave this book into the woodstove after the first 100 pages failed to deliver anything of substance or charm.
Anyways, I have been carting around Meir Shalev’s “A Pigeon and a Boy” for sometime. I hadn’t started it - just because I wasn’t in the mood but after Lamb’s book I needed an anecdote, and figured I’d give Shalev a chance. I haven’t finished it but I did manage to wade in roughly 100 pages last night - besides I didn’t get an offer to do anything better then read last night. Meir Shalev is no Wally Lamb, and can I get an Amen for that. So far I am utterly charmed by this book and I will quote you why:
There are a few character traits that set me apart from my parents and brother and wife. Some I have already mentioned and others I will mention now. They – she included – are well acquainted with the skies above their heads and the earth beneath their feet, while I am a kite whose string has severed. They – particularly she – take risks, while I hesitate. They – especially she – decide and do, while I settle for hopes and wishes, in the manner of the devout in prayer: like a hammer that pounds again and again on the same spot. Always the same words, always toward the same east. Sometimes – with my dark, closely spaced eyes, my desire for wandering and fear of travel, my uttering of prayers and my dread that they will be answered – I feel like the only Jew in the family.
And the best thing is - I cannot imagine any of the poetry or emotion this evokes - has been lost in translation.