Saturday, August 21, 2010

What if they come in the middle of the potato?

During this eternal moment, she, and faraway Ofer, and everything that occurs in the vast space between them, are all deciphered in a flash of knowledge, like a densely woven fabric, so that the very act of her standing by the kitchen table, and the fact that she stupidly continues to peel the potato--her finger on the knife whiten now--and all her trivial, routine household movements, and all the innocent, ostensibly random fragments of reality that are occurring around her, become nothing less than vital steps in a mysterious dance, a slow and solemn dance, who unwitting partners are Ofer, and his friends preparing for battle, and the senior officers scanning the map of future battles, and the rows of tanks she saw on the outskirts of the meeting point, and the dozens of smaller vehicles that moved among the tanks, and the people in the villages and towns over there, the other ones, who would watch through drawn blinds as soldiers and tanks drove down their streets and alleys, and the quick-as-lighning boy who might hit Ofer tomorrow or the day after, or perhaps even tonight, with a rock or a bullet or a rocket (strangely, the boy's movement is the only thing that violates and complicates the slow heaviness of the entire dance), and notifiers, who might be refreshing their procedures at the Jerusalem army offices right now, and Sami too, who must be at home in his village at this late hour, telling Inaam about the day's events. Everyone, everyone is part of this massive, all-encompassing process, and the people killed in the last terrorist attack are part of it too, unaware of their role: they are the casualties whose death will be avenged by the soldiers now setting off on a new campaign. Even the potato she is holding, which is suddenly as heavy as an iron weight and she can no longer continue to slice it, it too might be a link, a tiny but irreplaceable link in the dark, calculated, formal course of the larger system, which comprises thousands of people, soldiers and civilians, vehicles and weapons and field kitchens and battle rations and ammunition stores and crates of equipment and night-vision instruments and signaling flares and stretchers and helicopters and canteens and computers and antennas and telephones and large, black, sealed plastic bags. And all these, Ora suddenly feels, as well as the visible and hidden threads that tie them to one another, are moving around her, above her, like a massive fishing net, tossed up high with a sweeping motion, spreading slowly to fill the night sky. Ora quickly drops the potato, and it rolls off the counter and onto the floor between the fridge and the wall, where it shines with a pale glow as she leans on the table with both hands and stares at it.

--David Grossman, To the End of the Land


  1. Keep up posted on how this book pans out. I received a review copy (unsolicited), but was a bit put off by the all the blurb hubbub. Haven't decided how interested I am in reading it, but this quote shows some promise.

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