A Horse Walks Into a Bar ~ by David Grossman x2

I likely would not have read this again had it not been for a reading group. Actually I might not have finished it if it had not been for that reading group – BookerPrize

But second readings (1st review on this site) are often surprising and although the first time round I “got” how much pain is hiding out in the routine of a B-grade club’s stand-up comedian. And I got what a truly great writer Grossman is – there was a dimension I missed – how these relate to the country and people of Israel as a whole.

*******
A Horse Walks Into a Bar 
by David Grossman
2014/ 208 pages
read by Joe Barrett – 5h1m
rating: 9.75 / contemp. fiction
*******

To recap –   One night, Avishai,  an older Israeli Supreme Court judge gets a phone call from a man, Dovaleh,  who says he is an old friend.  the judge has forgotten but it comes back – they’d been very close childhood friends.  Dovaleh is now an aging stand-up comic and wants the judge to come see his show and relate to Dovaleh what he sees.  

The book is Dovaleh’s routine which this night is a replay of much of the comic’s life from childhood to that stage. Interspersed with that story are the judge’s thoughts and memories.   

Dovaleh is dying,  both physically and on stage – he’s not funny.  The routine is kind of sick and hurtful but Dovaleh’s health and life have been in trouble for some time.  

Also in the audience is a small woman, Azulae, who knew him from their shared childhood neighborhood where he walked on his hands. She’s there by accident – but Dovaleh picks on her a bit.    

This book is the story of a trial in which there were many crimes and many victims and many criminals – sometimes all in the same person.

On my second reading I focused more on the development of the inner-story plots and the separation and differences between the judge’s pov and Dovaleh’s.  I did kind of what the author of the Guardian review did – I psychoanalyzed the characters – not the country.    I also really noted how skilled a writer Grossman is to get the insides of a man, a comic like that, a tragi-comedy of a man.  We’re witnessing the death of a standup comic as well as his routine. Through his bad jokes we witness his grief and his soul, I suppose. 

The second time I was really trying to understand where these three characters (Dovaleh, Judge, woman) were coming from personally – not societally at all. (Also to figure out where Grossman’s “peacenik-ism”  fits in – because he is that.) 
Your insights in no way contradicted what I found,  they just totally added to my attempts at understanding this brilliant but not fun novel.  It’s a difficult read in many ways.
 
I felt like the audience the first time and wanted to leave because those old sad stories get a bit much (like listening to another sad diatribe about Trump – sometimes I get tired of it – no matter how much I agree.) I can see many reasons for leaving.  

But I persevered and was hugely rewarded by the ending which blooms even brighter with my reading of your comments.   Thank you so much for sharing!!!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Horse Walks Into a Bar ~ by David Grossman x2

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    I know, I’ve said this before, I’ve got this book on the TBR. I really will read it soon!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s