If you have read the excerpts from Acts of Terror and Contrition and find them (or the following description of my new novel) intriguing, you may buy the book by clicking on the cover image to the side here, on the title to this post, or on the Amazon.com link at the end of this post.
Acts of Terror and Contrition is both a political novella about Israel and a literary thriller telling the unofficial story of Israeli responses to Saddam Hussein’s missile attacks during the 1990 Iraq War – and the possibility that his missiles might carry nuclear warheads “to burn Israel to the ground,” as Tarik Aziz said then. This nuclear fable presents the secret history of the Mossad Operations Chief’s covert threats to force world governments to face what is at stake should Iraq launch a nuclear attack.
Desperate and unyielding in the face of Saddam’s threat, the Chief, Arie Schneider, puts a renegade plan into place, even as he confronts the machinations of the deeply-divided Israeli government ministers as well as his staff members’ rebellion against the extremity of his plan. Shadowing all this is the presence of the first Intifada, an Arab mother, and particularly her Islamist son, who plots his own act of terror. Enmeshed in the nuclear crisis, Arie must yet face his troubled wife, their two children, and above all his father, Rami, a holocaust survivor and retired diplomat. In opposition to the dangerous extremity of Arie’s plan, the old man summonses all his wisdom and his wily, struggling will to confront his son.
Acts is a literary novella, a version of the sacrifice of Isaac, about the unrecorded acts of terror and contrition which arise in 1990 within this circle of characters as their lives move toward a powerful and compelling climax. It is simultaneously a political thriller propelling us through dangerous close-calls and suspenseful political decisions in foreign capitals. It is also a powerful alternative history presenting a secret history of Israel’s part in the Desert Storm War. Above all, the novella explores the dread and opposition human beings feel toward the danger of nuclear radiation and nuclear weapons.
Eight stories of the nineteen-eighties accompany the novella, and these works record more personal “acts of terror and contrition” during the decade of Reagan and the fall of the Soviet Union. The stories cast a stark light – both ironic and sympathetic – upon the resinous hearts of these characters feeding what flames upon the troubled nights of the eighties. Both the novella and the stories in Acts of Terror and Contrition testify to the fraying connections between the personal and political, national identity and common humanity. And just as politics and identity are entwined here, so too are the forms the stories take: political fiction meshes with a thriller; raw slices of life yield the wholeness of a family chronicle; Americans come face to face with a range of strangers and specters; headlines haunt works of literary fiction.
In the first story after the novella, the wry secular Jewish owner of a New York toy company is visited one night in 1980 (Einstein's centennial year) by the spirit of the genius, and together they mourn the part the Jewish physicist played in developing the nuclear bomb. In another story set later in the eighties, a young professor creates a haunted, incendiary poem in response to the film “Hiroshima, Mon Amour,” as he faces an inner breakdown before the needs of wife, mentor, department chair, and a famed visiting Russian poet. In the third and fourth stories, two elderly characters – one an Armenian-American, the other the Greek widow of an eminent German-Jewish expatriate pianist – seek the energy and clarity to go on in the face of maddening infirmities and the incomprehension of others. In the fifth story, a former political activist takes his family on a European vacation in 1984, and on an Italian train he faces his youthful double, a fiery student anarchist. The final three stories chronicle the life of a multi-ethnic American painter born in the forties, from his traumatic childhood, through his youthful trespasses, to his difficulty in finding balance – of communicating – in marriage and beyond; the third story in the trilogy portrays a last chance he has to break the cycle of failed communication and to right himself as a father to his teen-aged son, who himself struggles to maintain his humanity in the America of 1989, the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
You may get a copy of the book from Amazon.com via the following link:
My next post will be an attempt to explore some works of certain precursors of the modern novel.
About the arts and ideas - on my novels and literature, music, and art
A new book about Beethoven gathers together (and completely rewrites and supplements) my blog posts on Beethoven into a short introduction to the composer, Ways of Hearing Beethoven, which I'm now circulating to publishers. My novel The Fall of the Berlin Wall, completed a year ago, is about musicians and particularly the intense, irrepressible daughter of the legendary pianist featured in my previous novel Hungry Generations, now fifteen years after those events. Five years ago, my 2015 novel, The Ash Tree, was published by West of West Books in conjunction with the April 24, 2015 centenary of the Armenian genocide; it's about an Armenian-American family and the sweep of their history in the twentieth century - particularly from the points of view of two women in the family.
There are three other novels of mine, which I sometimes circulate. One is Pathological States, about a physician's family in L.A. in 1962, which is as yet unpublished. Another is Hungry Generations, about a young composer's friendship in L.A. with the family of a virtuoso pianist, published on demand by iUniverse. A Burnt Offering - a fable (a rewriting and expansion of my earlier Acts of Terror and Contrition - a nuclear fable) is my political novella about Israel and its reactions to the possibility of a war with Iran (with the fear that it will be a nuclear war).
[These blog posts are, of course, copyrighted.]
[These blog posts are, of course, copyrighted.]