Sorry it has been so long – yet again I started a novel that I chose not to finish. A friend of mine – the same friend who loaned me the Jostein Gaarder novel – passed on Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory. Although fascinatingly amoral and masterfully crafted to inspire the reader’s interest, I could not get past the scene was a dog is nearly set on fire in a phone booth. We all have our limits – and that was mine. Puppies and dismemberment (which immediately followed) are just too much for me.
So, I started The Same Sea by Amos Oz. Oz is an Israeli author, and I remember when and why I added this novel to “the list”. My mother was watching Foxtel, and saw a show on him and he was reading from his latest novel – The Same Sea. She called me in because it sounded so beautiful.
When I finally found it in Borders Chapel Street, I couldn’t remember much about the show. Nonetheless, I bought the book and took it home.
Although the blurb reads like pulp fiction – a man who has recently lost his wife becomes attracted to his son’s girlfriend, who stays with him while his son is travelling, there is nothing trashy about Oz. The novel is written as if it were poetry, blank verse mainly. The narration shifts from the father, his dead wife, the son, the girlfriend, a female widow who has befriended the father, the various lovers of the girlfriend, and in true Brechtian style, the author himself who actually physically engages with the characters. And reflects upon his success as a writer. Loss and obsession are key themes, and reading it is like eating warm, melty swiss chocolate – a truly decadent experience that leaves you wanting to lick you fingers to get every little bit of it.
I don’t know if this is typical of Oz, but I certainly want to find out…