The New York Times
Bearing the Bodyby Havazelet
From Francine Prose's review in The New York Times Book Review: "Several times while reading Bearing the Body, I found myself recalling Virginia Woolf's remark that Middlemarch was one of the few English novels written for grown-ups . . ."See more details below
From Francine Prose's review in The New York Times Book Review: "Several times while reading Bearing the Body, I found myself recalling Virginia Woolf's remark that Middlemarch was one of the few English novels written for grown-ups . . ."
The New York Times
- Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- First Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 6.09(w) x 8.08(h) x 1.15(d)
Read an Excerpt
Bearing the Body
By Ehud Havazelet
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLCCopyright © 2007 Ehud Havazelet
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIt was a spring evening and he had come in too soon. Beyond the dining room window the catalpa tossed heavily, leaves grown huge this week, trailing seedpods comically like tassels. The light over the houses was a charged blue, not as in winter when it drained abruptly into night, but softer, a presence, almost liquid, an invitation, a tease. In the street, a car circled a second time, its radio up, and he leaned in to hear but caught only the thin edge of a melody before it turned the corner and faded.
Nathan was fourteen and after two hours of basketball had run the mile home, could have run another. He sat in his damp clothes with his body humming. A plate of food was in front of him, chicken, potatoes, beans boiled until their skin came loose, but he wasn't eating. The sweatshirt against his neck just beginning to cool, his calves, the area between his shoulders throbbing an agreeable ache. He watched his mother cut small pieces of chicken with a knife, her eyes fixed on the news across the room. His father, the Post beside his plate, also not eating, glancing from time to time at his food as if surprised to find it there, stabbing something without looking and bringing it to his mouth. Nathan reached past his father for the carton ofmilk, looked at his parents, at the newscaster a blank moment, then back out the window.
Long ago-he couldn't even remember when-he had developed the art of segregating himself. So while part of him hovered nearby, made sure he answered questions, chewed some food, the other part-the essential part, he knew-was able to split off entirely. He was back on the cement court behind the school, the warm, nubbly ball in his hands, waiting at the top of the key for Larry Cohen to lunge, as he knew he would, so he could put a shoulder into him, glide by and float the ball from his fingertips into the basket, while all Cohen could do was gape, flabbergasted, as if it were all choreographed, inevitable.
At the same time he was behind the chain-link fence where some girls, including Shari Rosenheim, paused on their way from the library to watch, books squeezed to their sweatered breasts, in among the smells and laughter and quiet sarcastic appraisals. And he was upstairs, where he had gone straight from coming in, on his bed with the lights out, with the towel he had bought himself and which he really needed to replace, Shari Rosenheim in her plaid skirt, the green sweater gone now, hair falling into her face as all his blood gathered and he closed his eyes and she reached down to touch him.
His mother had said something. Nathan had missed it and so had his father. His father looked up, eyes batting as they did when he worked to be patient, but his mother was alarmed as she said it again, "Daniel," and they all looked at the set. The six o'clock news, Walter Cronkite's dull, reassuring baritone, the same every night, guaranteeing that even if something happened nothing ever changed. Columbia. The demonstrations. Cameras zooming in and out, kids hanging from windows, banners, students facing off with cops on the library steps. A red-haired guy shouting into a megaphone. Just after he'd made that move, split the defenders and left Cohen holding his dick, he'd looked back at Shari Rosenheim, who had smiled as she walked away. She'd seen it. He knew she had.
On the television a camera was jostled, everything slurrying, and when it steadied, the building came into focus, steps, white columns, second-story windows where students called down and threw papers, one huge sheaf catching wind and scattering. A reporter was saying, "Walter, this may be growing serious here." Kids were barricaded in the building, had trashed offices. Now rumors a fire was set, chaos, many students had fled, concern for those remaining inside. The camera pulled in to three kids on the ledge, holding the sill behind them, cops below on the ground scrambling at their legs. There he was. His mother said it again, "Daniel." Though the breeze whipped his hair they could see the green army jacket, the black hat, the thin face, the complacent half-grin, the eyes. Daniel. His mother made a noise. Now two cops had him by the feet, hauling him down. But first he straightened, looked at the crowd. He moved hair off his face with two hands, put his arms out to the sides, as if he was on the board at the lake at camp, as if he was about to take off right over their heads. And before he was dragged down, two cops in face shields, another red-faced and cursing, they saw him look at the camera and smile.
The car passed a third time, its radio blasting. Some neighborhood kids out riding, circling the streets. Nathan could see their faces, their elbows on the door frames, the cigarettes in their mouths. They were cruising, they could drive into the city, upstate, anywhere. The same song. Was it? He leaned into the sound, made out a guitar, a drumbeat, and he leaned harder, determined this time to catch it.
Excerpted from Bearing the Body by Ehud Havazelet Copyright © 2007 by Ehud Havazelet. Excerpted by permission.
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