An unusual novel…I wasn’t sure what to think when I started it. A crazy man standing on his desk in his underwear trying to write a novel? A raised eyebrow, but I continued to read. And I’m glad that I did. This takes you on a winding, terrifying, fragile path through the human psyche. While much of it seems dark, there are glimmers of softness, tenderness, and a deep breath.
The character Yuvi is writing a novel and how do you write a novel when the world is hard and terrible and frightening and other people are enigmas and you are mystified by everything that happens? And your wife might be having an affair and your brother-in-law, who is one of your favorite people in the world, might be dying? How do you draft a novel to try to make sense of why parents die, why people stay married, why the arc of our sexual desire rises and falls and our shame at the things that excite us is so strong and yet restrained (pun intended)? Evidently you write the novel by standing on your desk and looking down at it… and you write it one page at a time.
There is brilliance and a touch of the neurotic (okay, a major touch) in Zalkow’s debut novel. I got so frustrated with Yuvi (the character) as he fumbled about, paranoid and believing the worst of everyone. I wanted to yell at him, “Pull up your underwear, my good man! You’ve shamed us all! Now back to the trenches with you. Keep digging until you find the burnished golden nugget of truth!” There is so much that is tragic in Yuvi’s world that it’s borderline depressing, but his wife, his gentle, acidic, hardened, but soft wife, brings us back to the tender, quiet hope shimmering just out of reach.
A novel for thinkers, depressives, Jews, Gentiles, writers and anyone else who has ever been mystified on how to live on when so much is taken from us every day.
I was fascinated by the way Zalkow wrote the book. It was like being inside the mind of a writer, in all the chaos, side stories, spinning madness and the crushing self-doubt. For some, it may pose a challenge as it tends to jump about, but for those of us who have a “writer’s mind,” it can seem like home.
For more information about Yuvi Zalkow and his book, visit the “desperate website of a desperate writer.”
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Published by MP Publishing, 2012
Source: Early Release Rumpus Book Club (see my Review Policy)