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The Love Machine & other contraptions Paperback – November 27, 2012
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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In short, this collection of short stories is: outstanding. Buy more copies than one if you give special books to people you respect.
I don't mean 'outstanding' in relation to other books this year, but in relation to any in any. One feature of this collection is that it has so many tones. This doesn't mean it is uneven, but good at saying many things and producing many different effects, such as a sudden explosion of laughter, an unkillable urge to get up and check up something in some other book, the Book, no less. Rage, sadness, and above all, thought. These aren't stories to consume mindlessly, but to savour. Yaniv's unpretentious fiction has the depth of Gogol and his wryness; in say, "Vegescan" the intelligent playfulness of Stanislaw Lem, and a sense of tragic humour that I can only describe as Ashkenazic; but "A Wizard on the Road", one of my favourites here, fits Yiddish humour as well as Turkish and Australian. Indeed, it would be as funny in any culture mature enough to make fun of itself. "The Word of God", however, is quite something else. If it were translated into a wealth of languages and were read by millions, it could do what fiction can sometimes do: change the way people think. I cannot recommend it too highly. This story took great skill to write. Rage always needs to be treated with tough love when harnessing it to a piece of fiction. Yaniv knows his ropes. (To those who, like me, want to stand up and wave "The Word of God", I also recommend Yann Kerninon's glorious essay, "Pour une religion du bonhour" in Liberation, January 19, 2004)
Lavie Tidhar's Introduction is quite helpful. Usually introductions are painful, but Tidhar illuminates. The translating is seamless, though there are several translators--Tidhar for 7 stories, Joe D. Brown for 2, Ido Reif for 1, and Yaniv himself for 7, including the "Contraptions" series, which are flash-fiction-length stories that are interspersed amongst the others, and that interact with the other stories in a way that shows that the collection isn't an assortment as much as a body of work, with a reason for everything being there and being where it is.
The book published by infinity plus, is well produced technically, with quite an attractive cover and a well-chosen and well-set crisp internal layout. I've read this in both paperback and e-edition formats, and they are both smooth. In the whole book, there are maybe 4 typos, all quite minor. A curious inconsistency of `grey' and `gray' is just that: curious. A reader should be so lucky to find many books as well written in "English".
I've only mentioned a few stories, and hesitate to say anything more except, strongly: Buy this book.