2005-06-06

Be My Knife

I've just recently completed David Grossman's Be My Knife. I was steered to it by a favorable review I saw some time ago (in The Economist, IIRC) and, now that I've finished it, I think it met my original expectation, although I had some doubts along the way. The structure of Be My Knife makes it a difficult read, at least for the first half: The first 2/3rds of the book are letters from Yair to Miriam (without her replies), followed by a diary of sorts that she keeps after their correspondence, and then a final section about which I don't think I should say anything. Much like reading a dialog in which the characters aren't believably distinct (ahem, Plato), reading one half of a correspondence is an extremely frustrating experience, especially when those letters are so psychologically loaded that they provide only dim insight into the other half of the correspondence and the world beyond. That said, once drawn in, this structure is a critical to the success of the novel, because it forces the reader to become intimate with the painfully deep and intimate aspects of Yair and Miriam which drive the novel forward, for that is the only entry into their world which Grossman allows. Be My Knife would not be so powerful or sad otherwise.

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