Publication Year: 2013
Experimental in structure and mood, Feathers features kaleidoscopic jumps in time, back and forth in the narrator's memories from boyhood to adulthood. Its moods swing wildly from hilarity to the macabre, from familial warmth to the loneliness of adolescence. Jerusalem and its inhabitants, as well as the emotional life of the narrator, are splintered and reconstituted, shattered and patched. This fragmentation, combined with a preoccupation with death and physical dissolution and dreamlike flights of imagination, evokes an Israeli magical realism.
Feathers was chosen one of the 100 Greatest Works of Modern Jewish Literature by the National Yiddish Book Center.
Published by: Brandeis University Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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I am doubly happy to write this foreword to Haim Be’er’s Feathers—in the ﬁrst place, because it is already a classic of modern Israeli lit-erature, and in the second place, because having translated it intoEnglish over twenty years ago, soon after its appearance in Hebrewin 1979, I had long despaired of seeing my translation in print. Why...
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Months after I had ﬁnished my long stint of reserve duty alongthe western shores of the Great Bitter Lake, I still saw Fanara in mysmall detachment whose job it was to ﬁnd what was left of the Israelisoldiers who had been killed in the battle for the Egyptian naval basethere. Every morning at dawn we left our little room, which was at-...
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My father and Riklin were sitting in the living room, drinking tea,door in the hallway. Their two heads were bent over an oaktag sheetspread out before them and divided into tiny squares like a cross-word puzzle. Books, rolled-up maps, and thick pads of paper whosecolored tips made patterns like the wings of exotic birds were scat-...
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As soon as Riklin left, my father slipped out of doors to stick thework for a second, ran her ﬁngers through her thin, uncombed hair,and inquired whether he was intending to open a knife nursery inthe yard. My father tried not to smile and replied without glancingup at our goitrous neighbor that one might think a rabbi’s daughter...
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My mother stood in the sunshine, her head thrown back and one eyeshut tight. In front of her other eye she cradled an egg, which shefound favor with God and man and remembered to inquire how I haddone on the dictation test. Then, keeping an eye on the egg, she toldme to tiptoe in softly. We had, she informed me, a distinguished...
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He ﬂuttered in like a great, hairy moth, banging into doorwaysand dropping his briefcase full of coin bags, receipt books, and tinalms boxes at the entrance while declaring that it was ages since hehad last come to see us and to inspect our School for the Blind box.father could be seen sitting up in his sleep, a green glow from the...
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...banquet that Mrs. Ringel was giving in her Golgotha. He sketcheda skull in the air with his hand and said amusedly that if, on her pil-Helena of Byzantium had come across our neighbor’s yard and seenits wooden heads standing piked for use in the wigmaker’s trade, shewould have unhesitatingly sanctiﬁed the place on the spot and chris-...
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...“They carried me out just like the Austrian prince,” Leder guffawedblew out the air from them, and explained that he had read in Ben-Yehezkel’s collection of Jewish folktales that when Crown PrinceRudolf, Franz Josef’s pampered son, took his own life, it was ru-walked to it with springs attached to his legs, propped up by two at-...
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After Leder’s stinging reversal in the Viennese Circle, the NutritionArmy’s forward command post was moved from the Café Vienna toGreenberg’s Bookbindery, which stood opposite the Alliance Schoolat the top of Jaffa Road. There it stayed for the next two years, untilthe day of the great demonstration against the German reparations...
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...“The boy needs to be kept an eye on,” declared Ahuva Haris, who,let in that same day on the secret of my ties with Leder, insisted Iwear a small linen bag full of camphor balls around my neck. As oilrepelled water, she promised my mother, so the sharp smell of thecrystalline substance would ward off Leder and his evil likes. Mean-...
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...“You’re not leaving the house today,” she stated categorically theminute I opened my eyes. The world wouldn’t come to an end, sheinsisted, if I missed a day of school. My school was near the Knessetbuilding, and my mother, who did not believe in looking for trouble,especially if trouble was already looking for you, feared the morn-...
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Two days later, forty-eight hours after Leder’s arrest, I slipped awayunnoticed from the packs of children streaming toward school andIn school all were busy with ﬁnal preparations for our annual as-sembly in honor of Bialik’s birthday. The fact was, of course, thatour national poet had been born a day earlier, on the fast day of the...
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...through an emergency exit into a waiting van, I rose early everymorning and made straight for the pile of newspapers in my parents’“Stop reading all that newsprint,” my mother said, worried that I might become addicted to the daily papers. “Believe me, you’rewasting your time.” For once I took her advice and decided to ap-...
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Not only did Behira Schechter’s visit cast new light on the lastdays of Leder, whose ﬁgure I have tried to portray in this book, italso ofﬁcially sealed the story of my friendship with him and beganNevertheless, human relations, as my mother’s good friend AhuvaHaris once described them, are like eczema: sometimes unrelenting,...
Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry