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The Distance Between Us

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Overview


An authentic look at the emotional and ethical chaos within a war correspondent who becomes a bit too involved, Masha Hamilton’s The Distance Between Us is a straight-ahead story of human passion—desire, conviction, and the guilt of a survivor—struggling for order within the frayed justice of the Middle East conflict.

A seasoned journalist herself, Masha Hamilton brings to this revealing novel the sharp eye and deep empathy that marked her debut, Staircase of a Thousand Steps ...

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The Distance Between Us

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Overview


An authentic look at the emotional and ethical chaos within a war correspondent who becomes a bit too involved, Masha Hamilton’s The Distance Between Us is a straight-ahead story of human passion—desire, conviction, and the guilt of a survivor—struggling for order within the frayed justice of the Middle East conflict.

A seasoned journalist herself, Masha Hamilton brings to this revealing novel the sharp eye and deep empathy that marked her debut, Staircase of a Thousand Steps (BlueHen, 2001). Beautifully turned, and peopled with an astounding cast of characters who are as true as they are perceptive, The Distance Between Us is finally the portrait of one woman’s search for the narrow pass between vengeance and emotional survival, when her only true attachment has been torn away from her.

“If we knew where we were going to fall,” the novel’s most enigmatic character tells her, “we could spread straw.”

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Editorial Reviews

Gayle Brandeis
"What a powerful, intense, beautifully written story. Masha Hamilton takes us right into the brutal heart of the war zone, right into the guarded heart of journalist Caddie Blair. With spare and stunning prose, Hamilton reminds us that the distance between us often isn't as great as we may think."
author of The Book of Dead Birds, winner of Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social Change.
Laurel Johnson
Masha Hamilton's prose has been described as graceful, luminous, and
elegant.  I will add beguiling to that list.  It seems appropriate that
she now teaches at the acclaimed Gotham Writers Workshop.  Her past
profession as journalist in trouble spots around the world lends
credence to this second book.  The Distance Between Us is believable,
the characters multi-faceted, and the plot engaging from first page to
last.

Catherine "Caddie" Blair is a war correspondent covering Jerusalem. In
that part of the world, even the most peaceful inhabitants can be driven
to extremes of revenge.  Violence is the only common language.  While
seeking an interview with an Arab extremist, Caddie finds herself in
unfamiliar territory, the dusty roads of Lebanon.  She's accomanied by
co-workers and her lover, Marcus.  Marcus is a photo journalist, a
skilled creator of moments frozen in time.  When bullets are fired at
their Land Rover from ambush, all Caddie can remember is the weight of
her lover's dying body and his hand pressed to her back in a gesture of
protection.  In seconds, the man who kept her centered and focused is
gone  From that day, Caddie wanders from the barren dry place where
Marcus died, to the winding streets of Jerusalem, to Gaza.  She's lost
her edge.  Pieces of herself have been scattered.  She seeks renewal,
and revenge against whoever fired that fatal bullet in Lebanon.

She quickly takes Alexander Goronsky as her lover.  In Goronsky,
"darkness lives beneath a tightly controlled exterior."  Goronsky sees
them as two sides of the same coin.  He's a man familiar with the
concept of revenge.  Their relationship takes Caddie deeper and farther
into self-knowledge than her love affair with Marcus ever did.  The
mysterious Goronsky supports and feeds her journey towards revenge for
Marcus' death.

In addition to extremes of passion with Goronsky, she seeks God and
gunfire -- that combustible combination ever present in the Middle East.
Caddie covers skirmishes as if she were bullet proof and immune to rocks
and bottles thrown as weapons, or impervious to the answering explosions
of stun grenades, Molotov cocktails and tear gas cannisters.  In battle,
as in Goronsky's arms, Caddie throws herself into the action searching
for some meaningful renewal.  Her epiphany, when it comes, is found in
one of Marcus' journals.  Like Caddie, he had been stripped naked by the
wars they've covered, left floundering, living behind a brave facade.

I could endlessly quote passages of glorious prose from this book, but
won't.  I'll let readers discover Hamilton's gifted way with words for
themselves.  The author has given us the scents, sights, and sounds of
Jerusalem, the sorrows shared by Israeli and Arab cousins.   And she's
put starkly realistic faces on human weaknesses and strengths.
Unbridled Books has picked a winner here.
Midwest Book Review
Publishers Weekly
A foreign correspondent's facade of emotional invincibility is shattered by the death of a colleague in journalist Hamilton's sharply etched, emotionally ferocious second novel (after Staircase of a Thousand Steps). Thirty-two-year-old Caddie Blair swears by "measured closeness and a dose of dulled feelings," but everything changes after a stunning ambush on the way to an interview with a Lebanese crime king leaves her lover, news photographer Marcus Lancour, dead in her arms. Caddie retreats to her flat in Jerusalem to make sense of her personal involvement in Marcus's death, refusing to take a cushy desk job in New York and continuing to work both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A mysterious and alluring Russian professor, Alexander Goronsky, offers insider information about terrorist cell activity, feeding Caddie's need to seek (and witness) revenge. Hamilton's novel is as edgily paced as a thriller, with its jaded crew of international journalists, scenes of horrific violence by Jews and Arabs alike and explosive sex when Goronsky and Caddie come together to forget respective wounds. Hamilton no doubt enlists her own experience as a foreign correspondent to effectively flesh out the characters Caddie encounters, such as Jewish settlers Moshe and his blank wife, Sarah, and the Arab girl, Halima, who wants to bear witness. This is an affecting, viscerally charged work that offers no easy moral answers. Agent, Marly Rusoff. (Nov.) Forecast: The timeliness of this novel and an extensive author tour should encourage strong media coverage. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Caddie Blair is a war correspondent in the Middle East whose life is tragically changed in a single second. En route to a high-level interview, she and her lover, Marcus, are caught in an ambush; he catches a bullet and dies beside her. Suddenly, the immunity that Caddie had built up to gunfire, tanks, and corpses evaporates. Faced with survivor's guilt and the loss of her journalistic detachment, Caddie must develop new defense mechanisms to endure the violent world she has called home for years. Enter Goronsky, another victim of terrorism, who holds the deep belief that revenge is the best choice to combat evil. In her second novel (after Staircase of a Thousand Steps), Hamilton, once a foreign correspondent, has crafted a compelling tale of reprisal and endurance with a rich cast of characters. With prose both beguiling and elegant, the story will strike a chord in readers following current events in the Middle East. Recommended for all public libraries.-Christopher J. Korenowsky, Columbus Metropolitan Lib. Syst., OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Hamilton (Staircase of a Thousand Steps, 2003) tracks an American journalist in the Middle East. Outside Beirut, on the way to interview a Lebanese crime kingpin with terrorist ties, reporter Caddie Blair survives an ambush that kills British photographer Marcus. Recovering in a dingy hospital, Caddie realizes that she has no one to notify. Marcus was her lover; her grandmother and mother are long dead, and she has few friends in Jerusalem, where she lives. If she ever had a home, it was with Marcus-he'd understood her passion for her work, and she'd admired his: he'd had an uncommon talent for capturing moments that defined the grinding conflict between Israel and the countries that surround it. But his fame was no protection against his fate-and his unknown murderers will go unpunished. Desiring a revenge she can't take, Caddie plunges back into reporting, maintaining a careful distance, yet drawn to scenes of violence as she reflects on Marcus's meaningless death, her parents' long-ago abandonment of her, and her own taste for life on the razor's edge. Fluent in Arabic, she talks to a Palestinian woman seeking treatment for her mortally injured daughter, knowing that the woman's young son built the bomb that burned his little sister to the bone. Before the doctors realize that Caddie is American, she learns the hideous truth: there isn't enough morphine to go around and not enough penicillin. In a restless quest to get a story-any story-she interviews Moshe Bar Lev, a militant settler. A firebomb destroys the bus they're riding, and the settlers retaliate with gunfire, hoping to kill as many Arabs as possible. All in a day's work . . . . Moshe returns home to dinner with his family andCaddie tags along. There's no peace to be found-though she does find love again with a fellow journalist, himself a survivor of tragic violence. Thoughtfully written but emotionally distant and overly cerebral.
From the Publisher

“A great story….Will get you thinking and break your heart.”—iVillage.com

“Searing.”—The San Diego Union-Tribune

"The plotting is flawless. The pacing is just right - sometimes reflective, sometimes action-packed. Hamilton is an accomplished stylist as well... Perhaps most unusual of all, Hamilton the journalist gets the fictional journalists just right." —The San Francisco Chronicle

“One of the strengths of this novel is that it does not judge. Caddie is portrayed as a suffering person responding authentically to loss. Along with Caddie, the reader slips into a charged space, where the air becomes too dense to breathe, or hisses and loses pressure like a deflating balloon. The near-universal desire for revenge becomes all too convincing.”—The Jerusalem Post

“A foreign correspondent’s façade of emotional invincibility is shattered by the death of a colleague in journalist Hamilton’s sharply etched, emotionally ferocious second novel (after Staircase of a Thousand Steps)....Hamilton no doubt enlists her own experience as a foreign correspondent to effectively flesh out the characters Caddie encounters … an affecting, viscerally charged work that offers no easy moral answers.”-- Publishers Weekly, STARRED

"A compelling tale of reprisal and endurance with a rich cast of characters. With prose both beguiling and elegant, the story will strike a chord in readers following current events in the Middle East. Recommended for all public libraries."—LIBRARY JOURNAL, STARRED

“A page-turner.”—Booklist

"[An] exciting novel....we're left thinking about the human tragedy rather than the political scorecard....[Hamilton's] determined to plumb the conflicted motives of people who rush to see danger in the world or in their newspaper. The result is a powerful portrayal of religious warfare and an unsettling challenge to anyone watching."—The Christian Science Monitor

“Timely, yet timeless….an eye-opening book for readers far removed from this part of the world, who only see it through news accounts or on TV.”—Newcenturyreading.com

“Extremely well written and compelling….THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US drops us right into the battle zone and forces us to look straight at the inhumanity and simultaneously the hidden personal side…”—The Bloomsbury Review

“Engaging from first page to last....I could endlessly quote passages of glorious prose from this book, but won't. I'll let readers discover Hamilton's gifted way with words for themselves. The author has given us the scents, sights, and sounds of Jerusalem, the sorrows shared by Israeli and Arab cousins. And she's put starkly realistic faces on human weaknesses and strengths. Unbridled Books has picked a winner here.” —Midwest Book Review

“Hamilton, who has worked as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Russia and Afghanistan, writes convincingly about the emotional challenges of reporting from a place rife with violence. Her terse, no-nonsense prose propels the novel like a thriller, but the undercurrent of moral tension gives it weight.”—The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Thoughtfully written.”—Kirkus Reviews

“What a powerful, intense, beautifully written story. Masha Hamilton takes us right into the brutal heart of the war zone, right into the guarded heart of journalist Caddie Blair. With spare and stunning prose, Hamilton reminds us that the distance between us often isn't as great as we may think.”—Gayle Brandeis, author of The Book of Dead Birds

“Hamilton presents realistically and sensitively the personal conflicts and emotional exhaustion that journalists face in capturing the lives of the suffering.”—Magill Book Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932961140
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books
  • Publication date: 11/3/2005
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    eye opening look at war and terrorism

    War correspondent Catherine 'Caddie' Blair successfully covers the Middle East by keeping herself detached from the victims of the violence. The journalist credo of disinterested objectivity fails her while she and her lover, gifted photo journalist Marcus, drive in Lebanon hoping to interview an extremist. Bullets are fired at their vehicle leaving Marcus dead and Caddie no longer unbiased. Caddie seeks revenge.--- Caddie quickly gains a new lover Alexander Goronsky who encourages her to avenge the murder of Marcus. She soon becomes ¿native¿ using God to defend the use of weapons to bring death and destruction on those who kill for a living. Still, courage emboldened by vengeance, she dives into skirmishes like an immortal, but also feels her life lacks meaning. Caddie turns to the deceased Marcus in hope that she can find sustenance to live again.--- Readers will not feel the same about war after reading Masha Hamilton's eye opening tale that vividly brings to life and death the horrors of constant terrorism with no end in sight. The fascinating story line grips the reader from the moment that caddie and crew meet death in Lebanon and never slows whether in Jerusalem, Gaza, or elsewhere. The cast seems genuine as the audience will see behind the masquerade of brave boasting bravado to the fears of real people; reminiscent of ALL¿S QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT with its insider look at individuals at war. Those silver spooned chicken hawks who insist they have made the world safer should read this novel so they can somewhat bridge THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US that they blithely ignore in their safer world.--- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted May 30, 2011

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