Tag Archives: Amos Oz

Review: A Perfect Peace

Amos Oz’s novel, A Perfect Peace, brings the reader a bit of an inside look into life within the kibbutz environment. Set in Israel, as most of his books are, it was quite the insightful story. The 1960s kibbutz setting emphasized the harshness and the difficulties the individuals had to go through in order to find a sense of place, sense of Self and sense of peace.

The characters were floundering for varied reasons, and their mindsets were brought to the forefront by Oz’s masterful writing. From first-generation disenchantment with kibbutz life in the stifling environment, where “privacy” is only a word, to the almost guinea pig atmosphere of life, Oz confronts the issues of daily life with strength and uncompromising honesty.

Through Oz’s honest appraisal, the reader is given privy to the corruption that runs rampant throughout the kibbutz and the state, within the pages. It is not an idealistic story in that respect. Some of the less than ideal situations causes much disharmony within the kibbutz, where life is stifling to begin with. In the view of a few of the first generation to be born on an Israel kibbutz, kibbutz life was stifling.

We are given access to the mindsets of the characters, and their disillusions, anger and rage, questioning of ethics and questioning of participation in the humane along with the non-humane running of a tight ship, almost in a tyrannical fashion. Lack of motivation leads one man in particular, named Yoni, to want to leave the kibbutz in order to find what he believes he is missing. He feels there must be something better and more worthwhile outside of the confines of his daily life.

Yet, another individual tries to move in, and is in constant fear of being turned away, and of not being accepted and liked by others. His trials and tribulations take different paths than Yoni’s.

Oz understood the social, political, emotional and environmental aspects. He lived on a kibbutz beginning in his early teens and continued to do so through 1986. I applaud him for his excellent and brilliant word-images he presents us, and for his mastery in not only conveying corruption, but also in conveying the kibbutz life in all of its essences.

I read the book to learn more about kibbutz life, and once I was finished, I realized that for some, kibbutz life affected the first-generation in ways that have not usually been written about. Life was not easy, was harsh, was not conceived as individualistic. Each individual was a part of the whole, part of the kibbutz community. Each child seemingly had more than one mother and father.

How this upbringing impacted the children gives one food for thought. Most of the adults were escaping a pogrom, escaping Holocaust-related events, tyranny, antisemitic abuse. The were also escaping in order to find a better life. The kibbutz was a form of communal effort and struggles, some of which did not afford the adults the dreams they had wished for.

Those dreams were quashed and their children were raised with firm hands and old ideas and ideals. In essence, their own dreams (children’s) were not given any credence, and they came to regard those dreams as being unfulfillable. The story line was quite illuminating in that respect.

I want to make something clear. My review is not meant to be in anyway reflective of a negative attitude on my part. I have relatives and friends who spent part of their teen years or young adult years on one, and had wonderful experiences. The novel details one kibbutz of many, and a few individuals living in that kibbutz, along with their own baggage.

I recommend A Perfect Peace to everyone.

3 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Jewish History, Lorri's Blog, Novels

Friday Thoughts

birds lake

I finished reading Amos Oz’s novel, A Perfect Peace.

Set in Israel, as most of his books are, it was quite the insightful story. The 1960s kibbutz setting emphasized the harshness and the difficulties the individuals had to go through in order to find a sense of place, sense of Self and sense of peace.

The characters were floundering for varied reasons, and their mindsets were brought to the forefront by Oz’s masterful writing. From first-generation disenchantment with kibbutz life in the stifling environment, where “privacy” is only a word, to the almost guinea pig atmosphere of life, Oz confronts the issues of daily life with strength and uncompromising honesty.

Through Oz’s honest appraisal, the reader is given privy to the corruption that runs rampant throughout the kibbutz and the state. It is not an idealistic story in that respect. Some of the less than ideal situations causes much disharmony within the kibbutz, where life is stifling to begin with. In the view of a few of the first generation to be born on an Israel kibbutz, kibbutz life defined as stifling would be an understatement.

We are given access to the mindsets of the characters, and their disillusions, anger and rage, questioning of ethics and questioning of participation in the humane along with the non-humane running of a tight ship, almost in a tyrannical fashion. Lack of motivation leads one man in particular, named Yoni, to want to leave the kibbutz in order to find what he believes he is missing. He feels there must be something better and more worthwhile outside of the confines of his daily life.

Yet, another individual tries to move in, and is in constant fear of being turned away, and of not being accepted and liked by others. His trials and tribulations take different paths than Yoni.

Oz understood the social, political, emotional and environmental aspects. I applaud Amos Oz for his excellent and brilliant word-images he presents us, and for his mastery in not only conveying corruption, but also in conveying the kibbutz life in all of its essences. I recommend A Perfect Peace to everyone.

This was not actually a review, but more of a post written because of the thoughts within my own mind regarding kibbutz life in respect from those who founded them, and those who became the first generation of the founders. Kibbutz life affected the first-generation in ways that have not usually been written about. Life was not easy, was harsh, was not conceived as individualistic. Each individual was a part of the whole, part of the kibbutz community. Each child seemingly had more than one mother and father.

How this upbringing impacted the children gives one food for thought. Most of the adults were escaping a pogrom, escaping Holocaust-related events, tyranny, antisemitic abuse, escaping in order to find a better life. The kibbutz was a form of communal effort and struggles, some of which did not afford the adults the dreams they had wished for.

Those dreams were quashed and their children were raised with firm hands and old ideas and ideals. In essence, their own dreams (children’s) were not given any credence, and they came to regard them as not able to be fulfilled. The story line was quite illuminating in that respect.

Shabbat Shalom!

Update: I am sorry for the update. I want to make something clear. My thoughts in reference to kibbutz life are not meant to be in anyway reflective of a negative attitude on my part. I have relatives and have friends who spent part of their teen years or young adult years on one, and had wonderful experiences. The book details one kibbutz of many, and a few individuals living in that kibbutz, along with their own baggage.

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Fiction, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Novels, Uncategorized

Jewaicious Review – Rhyming Life & Death

Rhyming Life & Death, by Amos Oz, is an amazing work of fiction, with a unique perspective. The book is a fascinating look at writing, life and death, fantasy and reality, and the comparison of how opposites need each other in order to complete the whole.

The protagonist is known as The Author, and we never learn his true name. The use of third person narration is subjective in Rhyming Life & Death.

This form of narration affords us to be inside the mind of The Author, and we know his thoughts and feelings. This format is perfect for the novel, in that it exposes the immediate train of thought of The Author. He is a man who is bored with the task at hand (before it even begins), that of having to attend a literary event where there will be a reading of his work, and he will speak and answer questions regarding his writing.

I won’t go into the descriptions of the characters The Author develops, as the book is a slim volume, and I would give the entire story away. Suffice it to say that there are some interesting individuals in the story, and there are both humorous and poignant moments. Oz is incredible with his vivid and detailed imagery, leaving nothing to the reader’s imagination.

The Author’s stories are just that, stories, and most do not have a plot, but are a form of amusement for him. There is a often a fine line between reality and fantasy, and in Rhyming Life & Death, it is often difficult to separate the facts from the imaginary. They often seem as one, and at times it appears that the characters seemingly have taken on a life of their own, within The Author’s mind.

In my opinion Rhyming Life & Death is a powerful book (although some might not think so, as it can seem disjointed), and one that is an illumination on writing and on reading, and on the life cycle. Within the intensity, it can be humorous at times. It is almost as if Oz is assailing or ridiculing writing itself, or at least the process of writing and being published, and the effects of the endeavor, both during and after. That is the beauty of Amos Oz, his ability to infuse the absurd within the pages, to leave beginnings with no endings, and yet brilliantly show that clarity of mind can coexist with one’s imagination.

I am an avid Amos Oz fan, and I personally own and have read this book.

April 5, 2012 – 13 Nisan, 5772

No permission is granted to reproduce my reviews, prose of any sort, and photos without my permission.

4 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Judaism, Novels

Jewaicious Review – The Same Sea

The Same Sea, by Amos Oz, is a captivating, lyrical, mystical prose poem for the heart and mind. Oz’s word-paintings fill our senses with emotions ranging from A to Z.

The novel has several characters whose lives join together and are intertwined, through the root of one particular person. The characters often cross emotional and societal boundaries in their search for peace, fulfillment, love, commitment and their search for Self. Compromises are made and broken, as familial ties and bonds become unhinged, as lives intersect.

The characters in The Same Sea are interesting, and each one has their own narrative to tell on their journey. Their  journeys are filled with their yearnings and longings for what was, what is, what could be.  They all strive for serenity, and also for redemption.  One of Oz’s characters, Rico, is on an odyssey of sorts, trying to find his place in a world filled with the void and loss of his mother.  Albert, his father, also feels loss, the loss of his wife, and the loss of his son who has left to journey the world, not knowing exactly what he is searching for.  Fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, lovers, friends, acquaintances are all entwined in this magical story.

Oz refers to the Bible in The Same Sea, to the beautiful “The Song of Songs“, with the display of eroticism in some of his pages.  The novel moves through time and place, legendary figures and geography, and through several generations of one family whose lives interweave with others.  There is an ongoing family dispute. The never ending sea, a bird, and the desert are significant factors to which allusions are made.  From dry humor to extreme poignancy, The Same Sea is a beautifully written tapestry, each page a thread in the fabric of life, each page almost a prose poem on its own.

Oz has a deep sense of all things unsettling, of the strong human need and quest for inner peace, and the desire for serenity within an environment of chaos and disquiet. He is subtle in his undertones regarding his nation, but nonetheless the hope is there, underlying, between the lines. A vision of peace hovers in the longings of the characters.

Oz’s observations on human behavior fill the pages with words of lament. The Same Sea is extremely mystical and magical. Its pages are not only lyrical, but almost musical, evoking the serene sound of a lute or flute between the eloquent lines. The novel is beautifully written with strong imagery, enticing our imagination, beckoning us to read on. It is a novel of dreams, desires and of hope, a sojourn towards peace. It evokes ideas of life, death and dying alone, and of acceptance of the inevitability that life goes on, no matter what occurs. The Same Sea is an extremely crafted prose poem not to be missed in its creative edge. It is an insightful metaphor for life, and for the desire and hope for peace. I applaud Amos Oz for his masterful prose and creative edge within the pages of The Same Sea.

All rivers flow to the same sea.”

I have read this book twice, recently as one month ago.

January 26, 2012 – 2 Sh,vat, 5772

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Judaism, Novels