Thursday, February 9, 2012

Amos Oz Scenes from Village Life

Amos Oz’s most recent novel, Scenes from Village Life, is filled with tense and evocative chapters, each strung to the next, about the daily life of characters in the fictional town of Tel Ilan.  The book is filled with details about the days of early Zionism, the promise of agrarian Hebrew-ness, and how in various ways, that dream has run its course, or less charitably, is dead.  Now, life in this Israeli town is dominated by various unstated dreads and the feeling that life may change so much as to be not worth living.

Oz creates tense work filled with range and interest.  But I found the final chapter a disappointing end to the novel. Oz had been threading a nice line between surreal reality and naturalism, only to fall off the cliff into pure surrealism in the last chapter.  I find it difficult to explain the move, or why this chapter was necessarily.  It was as if Oz was left with nothing more to say about contemporary Israel, and needed to provide us with an unnecessary fairy tale that is out of place in tone and style with the rest of the work.

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