A Tale of Love and Darkness - Amos Oz, Nicholas de Lange OK, the book is completed and I am having difficulty choosing between 4 or 5 stars, so I guess I will choose 4. It is best to save 5 stars for those books that you are sure must get 5! Otherwise 5 stars doesn't mean much! There is a lot to think about in this book. That is why I like the book. It seems to me a very Jewish trait to analyze, discuss and argue about everything. I like that. Nevertheless in this family there were some things that were NEVER discussed. Issues that should have been discussed, but they were just so painful nothing could be said! After his mother died, Amos and his father NEVER discussed the mother/wife. Not a word! So that which really must be discussed couldn't be discussed. All I can say is hmmm. Really not that surprising if one thinks of it. The deep emotions that tied the family members, the mother, father and son were wonderfully depicted, in an honest and sometimes brutal but also loving manner. I appreciated the honesty. That is why I liked the book. What else did I like? I liked how the people were real people. They did really stupid , crazy stuff. Lectures given in locked bathrooms. Grandmothers lecturing grandfathers to "grow-up", behave as an adult should and not set a bad example for the children. Usually it was the adults who were so childish - but isn't that true to life? Who says grown-ups follow the rules, act properly or set a proper example. The characters where in other words true to life. I think! Aren't we all just fumbling along. And any given person is both wonderful and terrible. Again a characteristic true to life. I would say that the book is primarily about relationships within a family, OK this family but probably many others too. Please check out the comments noted as I progressed through the book. I liked this book/author so much that I think I will immediately try another by the author, a novel entitled [b:Panther in the Basement|536550|Panther In The Basement|Amos Oz|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1356442762s/536550.jpg|63316]. I want to see if a novel holds up as well as this memoir.

On page 167 of the Harvest publication of this book: The binding and quality of this paperback is really MUCH better than the Vintage Book I was previously reading! Immediately I realize what marvelous company I am keeping with the individuals in this family. Take this quote on page 162: "Do you know what the main thing is - the thing a woman should look for in her man? She should look for a quality that's not at all exciting but that's rarer than gold: decency. And maybe kindness too. Today, you should know this, I rate decency more highly than kindness. Decency is the bread, kindness is the butter. Or the honey." I have personally always valued kindness, put it up there on a pedestal, but I love the analogy of decency and kindness compared to bread and butter/honey. It says it all! other lines are terribly amusing - "Once, it may have been in the winter, at Hanukkah, we had a huge argument that lasted off and on for several weeks, about heredity versus free will. I remember as if it were yesterday how your mother came out with this strange sentence, that if you open up someone's head, and take out the brains, you see at once that our brains are nothing but cauliflower. Even Chopin or Shakespeare: their brains were nothing but cauliflower." And then his Mom, the same person, also expressed the idea that: ..."heredity and the environment that nurtures us and our social class - these are all like cards that are dealt out at random before the game begins. There is no freedom about this: the world gives and you just take what you're given, with no opportunity to choose. But she wrote to me from Prague, the suestion is what each person does with the cards that are dealt out to him. Some people play brilliantly with poor cards, and other do the opposite: they squander and loose everything even with excellent cards." This Jewish family, with roots in Russia, their arguments, philosophical meanderings, goals and idiosyncrasies make a delightful read.


The On page 110: There are gems of truth to be found in this book. I think many women will agree with the following observation:

"What was the secret of Grandpa's charm? I only began to understand years later. He possessed a quality that is hardly ever found among men, a marvellous quality which for many women is the sexiest in a man: He listened. He did not just politely pretend to listen, while....." Some men really listen and some men look in the eyes of a woman. The point is, women like it when the man, in some way really connects. Really cares enough to pay attention. We like this! Right?!

Still only on page 22, but I know this will be another book and author to love. It is all in the writing - that is why I always try and read a bit of a book before I buy it. The problem is that the authors know that too and can provide us with only the best in the first few pages.

"The one thing we had plenty of was books.....When I was little my ambition was to grow up to be a book. Not a writer. People can be killed like ants. Writers are not hard to kill either. But not books; however systematically you try to destroy them there is always a chance that a copy will survive and continue to enjoy a shelf-life in some corner of an out-of-the-way library somewhere, in Reykjavik, Valladolid or Vancouver." I enjoy the expression of how a book "enjoys a shelf-life". I enjoy the random choice of cities where the book just might be found. I enjoy the serious aspect of a child of six realizing how quickly a human can be wiped off the face of the earth juxtaposed to the humor inherent in the words.


I love how it is so embedded in Jewish culture to discusses ANY topic from all sides.

"Here was another typical dilemma: should on or should one not send flowers for a birthday? And if so what flowers? Gladioli were very expensive, but they were cultured, aristocratic, sensitive flowers, not some sort of half-wild...." I find this terribly amusing but to see the real humor you have to read more!