Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: 'Marriage before Death' by Uvi Poznansky


Uvi Poznansky wears a coat of many colors. Originally from Israel where she studied Architecture and Town Planning then moving to the US where she studied Computer Science and became an expert in Software Engineering, Poznansky managed to combine the design elements of two studies into unique formats. And she has accomplished the same with the other side of her brain - making visual her ideas (she is an accomplished painter, drawer, and sculptor who has enjoyed exhibitions both in Israel and in California, her present base) and making words in poetry and in short stories and children's books. MY OWN VOICE was a memoir – the first part of her novel APART FROM LOVE: Still Life with Memories, THE WHITE PIANO is the second part, THE MUSIC OF US part three, DANCING WITH AIR is part four and now MARRIAGE BEFORE DEATH is part five. Having read them together allows sharing the scope of what came before this book – and sharing that is important.

In a Prologue Uvi shares a hint of the past and the future of her story, as always in elegant prose- ‘“The last line,” she says, turning away from me. “That’s where you should start.” Is it? I wonder. Over the years I have heard little advice from her, and accepted even less than that. When it comes to my literary aspirations I am used to getting few words of encouragement. Perhaps she doubts that a middle-aged man who is always fumbling about in search of a pen can be a writer. But today of all days, in spite of her usual suggestions that I should apply myself to a stable profession, my wife seems agreeable—no, much more than that, eager—for me to write. The change she is undergoing must have caught up to her. Her attempt, early this morning, to write a letter to our son, Ben, may still be fresh in her mind. And now, sitting outside on the balcony, Natasha stares at the nothingness of the mist. In her hands are a few scribbled pages, which she casts away, one crumpled thing after another, releasing them over the railing. I hesitate to tell her to stop that. When she is caught in this mood, who knows how she may react. Perhaps she already knows she can no longer rely upon herself to write her own story. Natasha stands up, her figure so slim, so fragile, outlined against the background of a fog-dripping tree. “You should start,” she repeats, “with the last line.”

Uvi’s skill at both visual and written art is outstanding, but her history of diversity does not end there. A synopsis of this portion of memories follows: ‘After D-Day, her photograph appears on the most-wanted Nazi propaganda posters. Who is the girl with the red beret? She reminds him of Natasha, but no, that cannot be. Why does Rochelle step into his life when he is lead by SS soldiers to the gallows? At the risk of being found out as a French Resistance fighter, what makes her propose marriage to a condemned man?’

Beauty of poetry, prose, and art bound together with a sensitive woman’s power to communicate with all readers. Perhaps there will be more…Grady Harp, August 17



Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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