From Publishers Weekly
Love has many guises in these two novellas—but it never looks like something you'd aspire to. Israeli writer Grossman is more interested in its perverse forms—jealousy, egocentrism, obsession, voyeurism—but also the ways in which we invent the people we love through fantasy. In "Frenzy," Shaul, a respectable academic, feverishly stalks his wife, Elisheva, convinced she has been having an affair with another man for 10 years. He asks his sister-in-law, Esti, to drive him across the country in the middle of the night in search of Elisheva, and as he describes a decade of watching and waiting and imagining every last detail of Elisheva's betrayal, Esti finds herself getting pulled into Shaul's obsession. In "In Another Life," a writer named Rotem visits her estranged mother, Nili, now dying from cancer. Rotem shares her latest story, a fictional exploration of an episode from her childhood in which her mother is the central character. As Rotem reads aloud, Grossman switches back and forth from Rotem's story to the present moment. The reader sees Nili, and then sees her as Rotem imagines her, while the narrative hovers somewhere between memory and fiction. Grossman (See Under: Love
, etc.) can capture surprising psychological depth in a single sentence, and here he opens up whole lives on every page.
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Known both for his fiction (The Zigzag Kid
, 1997) and his political commentary on the Middle East (Death As a Way of Life
, 2003), Israeli author Grossman turns here to two novellas of searing psychological intensity. Both stories deal with the pain of betrayal. In Frenzy
, Shaul confides to his sister-in-law that he knows about his wife's 10-year love affair. In wrenching detail, he describes the demise of his marriage and his wife's love for another man. The second novella, In Another Life
, portrays a thorny relationship between a dying woman and her emotionally blocked daughter. As her mother lies bloated and ill from chemotherapy, Rotem narrates the brutal story of Nili's visceral sensitivity to everyone but her own daughter. In a stream-of-consciousness style that combines magical realism with highly sensual, often erotic descriptions, Grossman explores the relationship between intuitive and verbal communication and illustrates the emotional morass of love gone awry. Jennifer BakerCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved