Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: "To The End of the Land" by David Grossman

I have a strange history with author David Grossman’s books. In high school I took a Holocaust Literature course, and one of the books on that list was his novel See Under: Love. It was a notorious book from what I had heard, and nobody who had taken the class had liked it. This one would be no different, and no one, including myself got past the 20th page. In retrospect, I thought I didn’t give the book the chance it deserved, so approached his most recent book, To The End of The Land, eager to redeem my former high school self. While I am glad to have completed the task and read a book longer than a famed literary high school whale, my notions that he is a writer who is needlessly difficult were true. This novel has its moments; as all books do, but the way it switches from the past and present, along with its oppressive 576-page length make this a very exhausting book. It tries your patience and makes you want to stop at points, but if you are patient, and have hours to kill, you can complete and still come out the other side with liquid in your veins. It tells the story of Ora, a mother whose son, Ofer, is being shipped to the front lines of a brutal war in Israel, and in a fit of confusion, takes Avram, an estranged friend, out into the desert of Galilee. There she recounts her marriage to Ilan, a government employee, and the events surrounding Avram’s fragile sate of mind, and the raising of Ofer and their other son Adam. First off, this book did not need to be 576 pages long. If it were 300 pages, this book would be much more readable. And the narrative technique of slipping between past and present needs to be less vague. I know Faulkner did that as well, but who really like Faulkner? The moments at the beginning in the hospital and when Ora makes her rash decision are very tense and kept me going, just wish the pieces over the next 500 pages fit better. I didn’t like this as much as Nicole Krauss, but she is married to Jonathan Safran Foer, so what does she know?
Rating: 3/5

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