Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pg. 99: Ehud Havazelet's "Bearing the Body"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Ehud Havazelet's Bearing the Body.

About the book, from the publisher:
Growing up, Daniel seemed like a model son: a student activist blessed with easy charm and a fluid intelligence, who believed that he was heir to a better and brighter future. When that dream faded, he drifted from his family and into a rootless life, marked by wasted possibility.

Bearing the Body begins when Daniel’s younger brother, Nathan, a medical resident in Boston, learns that Daniel has died in San Francisco. The circumstances are unclear, and the police are involved. Nathan, who suffers from chronic anger and uncontrollable compulsions, travels to New York to inform their father, Sol, of Daniel’s death. Sol is an Auschwitz survivor who has spent most of his adult energy compiling an archive of the fates of Hitler’s victims. Due in part to this obsessive research, he has lost touch with his sons. He nevertheless decides to join Nathan on a trip to the West Coast, where both men hope to learn more about Daniel’s untimely death. In San Francisco they meet Abby and her son, Ben, who were Daniel’s companions in a life that his family never knew about or shared.

A moving study of isolation and its costs, Bearing the Body is a book about history and memory, about family and loss. Most of all, it is a book about the past, which, far from receding quietly, weighs ever more heavily on those who hope to leave it behind.
Among the early praise for Bearing the Body:
“Ehud Havazelet has the gift of creating characters that live on in the reader’s mind, characters so deeply human you’ll suddenly catch yourself, weeks later, wondering what they’re doing. As much about the possibility of hope as it is about the legacy of suffering, Bearing the Body first breaks your heart, then heals it, leaving it larger, expanded in its sympathies, more capable of understanding, and of enduring that understanding. It is a brave and beautiful book.”
—Mark Slouka, author of The Visible World

Bearing the Body unpacks one family's American dream as if the angel of history herself were guiding us through the wreckage. A moving and unusual novel.”
—Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever

Bearing the Body is an ambitious novel driven by a wonderfully talented writer's sense of history, coupled with a deep compassion for his characters, every one of which is rendered fully and with great wisdom.”
—Richard Russo

“Havazelet writes with a kind of anatomical precision, his scalpel slicing at his characters to expose the dark reality beneath.... The realization of a striking talent.”
—Richard Bernstein, New York Times
Ehud Havazelet is the author of two critically acclaimed short-story collections: What Is It Then Between Us? and Like Never Before. His stories have appeared in such journals as DoubleTake, New England Review, The Southern Review, ZYZZYVA, Iowa Review, Ontario Review, and Crazyhorse, and have been chosen for the Pushcart Prize. He is the winner of both the California Book Award and the Oregon Book Award for fiction. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Oregon where he teaches creative writing.

The Page 99 Test: Bearing the Body.

--Marshal Zeringue