It’s the little things
Hooray, I managed to read one more book in the last week, bringing my total up to three in four weeks. Not bad.
I liked this one very much. It’s called Homesick and it’s by an Israeli writer called Eshkol Nevo whom I’d never heard of before, but thought I’d try because I’d read a very enthusiastic review of his book on some blog somewhere.
So. It’s a book about relationships – longing and belonging – featuring lots of people. There’s a young couple living together for the first time. They’re madly in love with each other, but being together all the time – will that work out for them? There’s a slightly older couple, married for years. He comes from an Orthodox Jewish family and wants his kids brought up within the religion, she comes from a broken home and wants to bring her kids up with a more secular outlook. What will happen to them? There’s an elderly Arab, looking for the house his family had to leave behind when Israel came into being. There’s a small boy who’s been neglected by his parents since his brother was killed in Lebanon – he’s lost his brother and his parents. There are his parents who’ve lost a son – and may lose another. And there are letters from a young man just out of the army, who’s backpacking in South America for a year, trying to find himself.
This is slow reading, because every person is dealt with individually; every person has her or his own say in her or his own voice. You see the individual individuals in every relationship. But I loved it for that, for letting me get into the head of every person in the book.
At the end everything is resolved in the way that real life offers resolutions. You think things have come together (or not), but actually everything is still open, you never really know what’s going to happen next.
But it was the last two pages of the book that really moved me. It was the final letter to his best friend from the young man in search of himself. He knows he’s found what he needs, but he also knows that he needs to consciously go after all of it or it’ll recede into the background with time. So he lists all he wants in the letter to his friend, so the friend will remember and keep him on track.
“I want to start swimming,” he says in the letter.
“I also want to be less cynical,” he says. “…I’m sick and tired of pretending that nothing turns me on just so I don’t look pathetic. I’m sick and tired of shooting poisoned arrows at other people just because I’m afraid they’ll hurt me. I want to come to people with an open heart. What’s the worst that can happen?”
“I want to eat big breakfasts,” he says. “Like on a holiday.”
“I’m sick of being stressed out,” he says. “I want to take my time so I can make my time.”
“I want to get turned on by little things,” he says. “Walking barefoot on the sand. Eating the cone after the ice-cream’s gone. Colourful graffiti on a dirty wall… I want to get turned on by all those little things. Not to let them pass me by without noticing them.”
I want all of this too. Usually I have it. I do get turned on by little things, mostly. But there are times when I notice none of these things and then life just sucks.
Maybe I need to write a friend a letter like this, asking her or him to keep it and remember it and get me back on track on the occasions that I lose my way.
But then again, I have this blog. So here it is.