Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


The ratings:
5 stars  excellent
4 stars  very good
3 stars  good
2 stars  fair
1 stars  poor

Blog stats:

Navigate the site:

Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

Advertise: Rates & stats

Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« James, Dean: Decorated to Death | Main | Benedict, Elizabeth: The Practice of Deceit »

Skolkin-Smith: Leora: Edges: O Israel, O Palestine

  

Printer-friendly page! Use print preview to see how this page will appear.

Glad Day Books © 2005, 176 pages [amazon]
3 stars

Leora Skolkin-Smith's brief novel follows fourteen-year-old Liana Bialik on a trip to Israel with her mother and sister in 1963. The three women have left their Westchester home to attend the reburial of Leona's maternal uncle, whose grave is to be moved to the Israeli side of the country's border with Jordan. At the same time an extended visit with her birth family is intended as a comfort to Liana's mother after the recent death--by apparent suicide--of her husband. The tragic stories behind the deaths of these two men, Liana's father and uncle, though only hinted at in the book, form the backdrop to Liana's coming-of-age story.

We can view with sympathy Liana's desire to free herself from her mother's stifling, sweaty, noisome affection, if not the dramatic means by which she eventually makes good her escape.Set amidst the barbed-wire borders of pre-1967 Jerusalem, Edges is more concerned with the figurative boundaries between Liana and her mother, whom Liana simultaneously loves and is repelled by. Certainly there is much in her mother, as Skolkin-Smith describes her, to send one screaming:

"Her body was usually without undergarments which gave the sheets a hot, wettish odor. Her hair and face creams gave off a strong, fruity smell and tempered the raw coarse aromas that got loose from her flesh."

In this and other passages the author paints Liana's mother as aesthetically odious--just the sort of way a girl of fourteen might view her mother. But reeking of sweat and other bodily fluids as she is, Liana's mother is not the only thing that smells in this book. Skolkin-Smith's Jerusalem is filled with the unappealing odors of food and people as well as of cocktail napkins, orgasms, and mirrors (which smell respectively like walnuts, curdled milk, and "sweat and old yarn").

We can view with sympathy Liana's desire to free herself from her mother's stifling, sweaty, noisome affection, if not the dramatic means by which she eventually makes good her escape. Her story becomes entwined with that of an American boy who's recently gone missing and whose disappearance has caused a national stir. Apparently the boy doesn't want to be found, but why this should be is never made clear.

Skolkin-Smith's Edges is a quiet novel filled with small moments. Much of the story is told in dialogue, the stilted English of Israelis conversing in an unfamiliar tongue. They pepper their speech with untranslated Hebrew, which may be off-putting to readers unfamiliar with that language. More problematic for my own appreciation of the novel is that the various characters often have fractured encounters with one another that don't quite make sense:

"Two small nuns in black bowed in front of some ruins, and a priest with a scarlet-red Russian turban was smoking a cigarette beside a church door. He saw us and crossed the vestibule."

"'I am American. Christian. Does it matter?'" my mother began, and he waved us along, away from him."

Skolkin-Smith's characters rarely express themselves fully, much falling between their words. (Liana, for example, runs off with the American boy without the two ever having a conversation to that effect beforehand.) This imperfect communication probably reflects real-life dialogue well, but it is difficult to follow on the page.

Readers who like their prose on the poetic side--and anyone interested in a story that evokes the sights and sentiments and indeed the smells of 1960's Jerusalem--should give Skolkin-Smith's novel a look.

Tags: , , ,

< Tweet it! | Reblog
https://www.book-blog.com/2005/09/edges_o_israel_.html
Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Comments




Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In


About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






The Sunday Salon.com



Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.