David Grossman, You Just Blew My Soul to Smithereens

I read To the End of the Land.

And . . . in some ways there is no adequate response to this book other than open sobbing. Even that, of course, wouldn’t acknowledge its genius but only its vast, vast pathos.

I think what is most impressive—even beyond the marvelously crafted plot, the gorgeous and pulsing language, and the virtuosic intimacy with human feeling—is Grossman’s capacity to hold pain. HOW, HOW, HOW? I want to cry. HOW CAN YOU HOLD SO MUCH PAIN?

Grossman walks straight into the fire and burns there, really burns, for 600 pages. And when as a reader you are desperate to veer away, he goes even deeper into the pain. And stays. And stays. And stays. I have to admit: There is a long, torturous sequence about 75% through the book (Kindle, sorry) that I had to skim. I was already feeling shredded far beyond comfort, and I needed to protect myself.

I felt I owed it to the heroic bravery of the book, however, to hold as much of it as I could. So I did try.

Years ago, as I was filling out the application to study the Rosen Method, I read a sentence in the descriptive materials which applies to this book: This training is not recommended for people who need to maintain a rigid defense structure. I would add that if you’re a parent, a military family, and/or you live in Israel, it’ll be even tougher.

That said, I may have to write Grossman a letter of personal thanks. His courage to feel is astonishing.

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