Friday, February 23, 2018

The question

After 2 Corinthians 8

It is not a question
of how much
it is a question
of why. Answer
the why and the how much
answers itself. And the why:
to give because of what
he gave to us
the eternity
he gave to us
to give what we have
not what we don’t.

Photograph by Jad Limcaco via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"A Possibility of Violence" by D.A. Mishani

Avraham Avraham has just arrived back in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, after a three-month vacation in Brussels. He had stayed with a policewoman he met there on a previous case, and she is preparing to move to Tel Aviv. He stops at his office in suburban Holon, and volunteers to help with work, even though he is still on vacation. The police office is overwhelmed with work, many of the officers and detectives are on holiday, and he decides to help.

He interviews a suspect who placed a fake bomb near a day care center in Holon. The suspect is smart mouthed and obnoxious, but there’s no real reason to hold him; a witness’s identification is too vague and unsure. But this interview draws Avraham into the case, and he boss tells him he must do well. She had written a rather critical report of his handling of the case detailed in The Missing File, but she knows he’s a solid detective, and what happened in the previous case was not his fault. Avraham himself considers it something of a failure.

He suspects the day care center operator knows more than she’s letting on, but she denies any reason for someone placing a fake bomb. He explores other possibilities, but the investigation keeps coming back to the operator. Adding to his frustrations is what seems to be a growing reluctance of his girlfriend in Belgium to come to Israel, and he doesn’t know why.

And then the day care operator is attacked and nearly killed.

D.A. Mishani
A Possibility of Violence, published in English in 2014, is the second of three Avraham Avraham detective novels by Israeli author D.A. Mishani, a crime writer and scholar of historical detective fiction. He lives in Tel Aviv and teaches at Tel Aviv University. The second novel in the series is The Missing File (2013) and the third is The Man Who Wanted to Know Everything (2016). This second novel won the Bernstein Prize in 2014 for the best novel published in Israel. It was translated into English from the Hebrew by Todd Hasak-Lowy.

Mishani artfully blends Avraham’s private and public lives, along with his internal doubts and public professionalism. The detective becomes a recognizable and real person. And The Possibility of Violence like its predecessor The Missing File, transcends the mystery genre. It’s still a good mystery, but it’s also good fiction.


Top photograph: An aerial view of part of Holon, Israel, a suburb of Tel Aviv.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"From Depths We Rise" by Sarah Rodriguez

Sarah Rodriguez was a young woman from Oklahoma who decides to move to New York City to work. Her family is (justifiably) concerned and tell her she needs to have a job to go to. She manages to get one and makes the move. And she eventually meets Joel, an almost quintessential New Yorker, they fall in love, and the new couple move back to Oklahoma to start their life together.

They want children, but have trouble conceiving. Sarah has surgery to remove cysts, but still no pregnancy. So they talk about in vitro fertilization (IVF) but go on about their lives, including training for a half-marathon together. They run the race. Not long afterward, Joel is diagnosed with cancer.

From Depths We Rise: A Journey of Beauty from Ashes is the story of Sarah and Joel and their battle to beat Joel’s cancer. It’s also the story of Sarah’s faith and resilience, her courage and strength. And her strength. It’s a story when, on most days, she didn’t feel faithful or resilient or brave or strong. Most days, she felt overwhelmed.

Joel’s cancer goes into remission after a year of treatments. They decide to use IVF to conceive, Sarah becomes pregnant, and they have a healthy baby boy.

And then Joel’s cancer returns. He will experience strokes. And Sarah finds herself singing one medical authorization after another. And it will seem that every time there’s hope, the hope is quickly snatched away. His medical situation goes from bad to worse to worst. Sarah will bury the husband she loves so much.

Sarah Rodrigues and her children
The story doesn’t end there. There are still two frozen embryos from the IVF process, and Sarah will decide to get pregnant again. And that becomes another journey is faith, when joy quickly turns to nightmare.

We never know what we can stand when life begins to throw rocks and boulders. Sarah Rodriguez found out. She had family, friends, and church to support her, but all the help in the world wouldn’t stop the awfulness.

From Depths We Rise is a remarkable story. Sarah Rodriguez is a strong woman, although she would likely be the first to say her own strength had nothing to do with it.

Top photograph by Alessio Lin via Unsplash. Used with permission.