We all have dreams that mix with reality. We wake up and wonder if something really occurred, or whether it was "just" a dream. Such is the underlying premise of Stuart Ross' novella Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew.
Ross' character Ben shares out of sequence memories of his life, beginning with an assassination of a former-Nazi by Ben's own mother. Throughout the book, Ben continually questions whether this event actually happened, almost to the point of asking someone else if it did...but not quite. Considering that there is no memory of an imprisonment of his dying mother, as well as the fact that the chapter detailing this so-called memory is titled "The Dream", shows the reader that this memory is probably, in truth, just a dream; the most realistic and horrifying dream of his life, true, but still a dream. It is Ben's attempt to give meaning to his mother's all too short life. Yes, she resented and was obsessed by the existence of the Nazi while she was about to die herself, never mind that because of him, or at least people like him, much of her family had "turned to smoke over Poland".
This confusion between reality and fantasy could have been distracting if not for Ross' skilful stream of consciousness writing style. His uniquely Ontarian references instantly brought me back to my own childhood of the 1970s with a pure, clean and honest nostalgia rarely felt in novels. It is more than a coming-of-age story as Ben doesn't ever really come of age, despite becoming the last man standing in his own family. He is obsessed with his past and the ephemera of his childhood, as many of us still are...at least in our dreams, if not in our daily lives.Read more ›
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A fast, funny readFeb. 25 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Both my wife and I enjoyed this funny novel set in the Toronto area. There are many flashbacks to earlier parts of the storyteller's life and it is not always easy to tell when the flashbacks begin or how to organize the information in your head. But that is part of the fun of this book. We find out near the middle-end of this thin book that the storyteller is probably in their thirties. The majority of the flashbacks are to their childhood. The great majority of the situations mentioned revolve around the storyteller's family and a few local characters in the neighborhood he grew up in.
There is a dynamic event mentioned in the novel that the storyteller is unsure of whether it really happened, and we are left wondering whether it really occurred in the story. This event revolves around some human behavior themes and echoes some stories occurring in the real-world news over the last 15 years.
A small number of insights are appreciated more if you were also brought up Jewish like me, you do not need to be Jewish to appreciate this funny, interesting novel. The story is probably semi-autobiographical as the author appears to be Jewish and lives in the Toronto area.