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A Wall of Light - And Some Darkness

I don't want to disappoint anyone who read my previous post and is waiting for my judgment on Edeet Ravel's A Wall of Light, which I have now finished, but I have to digress a little first.

The city in which I live has just experienced the kind of gun violence with which my American friends in New York and L.A. are more familiar. On December 26th a fifteen-year-old girl in our city was the innocent victim of a gang shoot-out in a busy downtown shopping district. The scum involved will be caught . . . if the families and communities which are home to the gang members stand up for the innocent.

This kind of gang violence is generally unheard of in Canadian cities, although we have steadily seen an increase in gang and drug-related shootings in particular neighborhoods. Of course, we are now hearing from politicians, and community and police spokespeople about the various remedies for this gun violence . . . more severe penalties, more funding for youth programs, stronger family units, stricter border controls (sorry American friends, but most of the guns are smuggled in from the U.S.).

I just don't know what the answer is. Will more youth programs in underprivileged communities really prevent young people from joining gangs? If offered jobs, will they take them? Will the men in these communities ever take responsiblity for the children they sire; and will the women ever stop thinking that these punks are -- in some perverse way -- attractive mates? Is there anything to be done about the kind of music ('Fiddy' as a case in point) which glorifies gangsta lifestyles? Anyone got any ideas?

So . . . now to Ravel's novel. It is mostly satisfying, but certainly not life-altering, and says not enough about what the people who live in the Middle East really experience about life in that pressure cooker of a world. A series of vaguely connected self-reflections by a number of inter-related characters, the really interesting characters are not given the attention I think they deserve . . . Noah, a young boy who reluctantly joins the Israeli army, makes a short career of avoiding fighting and ends up studying art in Berlin and Kostya, a brilliant young Russian emigre who becomes a doctor and looks after his aunt Sonya, a deaf mathematics professor who falls in unrequited love (after a momentary episode of lust) with a sensitive Arab named Khalid.

Read it for what it reveals about how people deal with various forms of pain . . . deafness, break-ups, rape, and sudden death. For me, this week, that was enough.

Personalism and Universality

Reading "Week"