The road to ruin
Israeli sensation Waking Lions hits American shores

The road to ruin

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

Jeffrey Mannix - 04/05/2018

We’ve all come across a precious object or an unforgettable sight or a love or feeling that calls up genuine awe and gets stored in our chest of valuables never to be forgotten or besmirched or stolen. And we’ve all read books, or perhaps only one book, that we’ll never forget and that may have even shaped a big or tiny piece of who we’ve become. I have at least a few dozen books that have left such impressions upon me, with some prying out the writer when I was young and others reaching into unrealized passions.

Now comes another magnificent book that will never be forgotten and has in one swoop reenergized in me the fascination of the written word and my dedication to the magic of language. Waking Lions by Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen has set her country abuzz and has been awarded Israeli’s top Sapir Prize for best debut fiction, the Wingate Literary Prize, and has been translated and soaked up in 14 languages, appearing in English only a month ago.

Waking Lions is about moral ambiguity in a time and place unfamiliar to the world we know, but with threads of universal rectitude that clearly and always demand accounting. Fiction speaks real truth and reveals customs far more than non-fiction, and so “Murder Ink” readers see many translations from very culturally different places so we can experience different truths. Israel is about as ambiguous and disparate a culture as there is in the world.

The book opens with neurosurgeon Dr. Eitan Green driving exuberantly through the hills of Beersheba to blow off frustrations after a long graveyard shift at the outpost Soroka Hospital. He comes around a curve “thinking that the moon was the most beautiful he had ever seen,” and that’s when he hits the man. For the first moment after the accident, Dr. Green was still thinking about the moon, and then he suddenly stopped, “like a candle that has been blown out ... at first, all he could think about was how much he needed to defecate.”

Dr. Green stops, of course he does, and goes to the aid of the stricken refugee, an Eritrean or Sudanese. “Or God knows what. A man about 30, maybe 40; he could never determine with any certainty how old those people were.” He was alive with a crushing head wound that Dr. Green knew would mean certain death in 15, 20 minutes, even if they were in the surgical theatre of a hospital. He should call the police, call an ambulance, be the mensch he is to his profession and family and his community. But “the Eritrean kept bleeding as if he were doing it deliberately. If Eitan was lucky, the judge would give him only a few months. But he wouldn’t be able to do surgery anymore. That was for certain. No one would hire a doctor convicted of manslaughter. Suddenly he knew he had to go.”

Dr. Green leaves the scene, goes home to sleep the sleep of a dead man. He wakes to the reality of what he’d done. And a few days of growing wretchedness later, the victim’s well-designed, raven-bright wife returned the good doctor’s wallet she’d found next to her dead husband. Waking Lions is not without some faults, only noticed because the entirety of this book is so excellent. I daren’t reveal more, except to say that there are no actual lions in this story, and the payback for Eitan is demanded in the way of a culture very different from ours. You can’t but treasure this book.


The road to ruin

Top Shelf

Down in front, LCK and danzas with wolves
Down in front, LCK and danzas with wolves
By Chris Aaland
11/07/2019

Last Saturday night at a Genuine Cowhide throwdown at the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez, a sour old woman sitting on the side of the theatre firmly kicked my right calf and yelled at me to move out of the way.

Estonian laments, pumpkin drop & stinkin' in Zetroc
Estonian laments, pumpkin drop & stinkin' in Zetroc
By Chris Aaland
10/31/2019

There’s something comforting about honky-tonk music. One of country’s rowdier subgenres, it had its roots more in the barrooms than in churches, although its pioneers certainly sang gospel Sunday morning to repent for Saturday night’s excesses.

Batty concoctions, downtempo demons & Motown sound
Batty concoctions, downtempo demons & Motown sound
By Chris Aaland
10/24/2019

Hard to believe, but the holidays are practically here. This week’s entertainment slate tests all five or your senses with a witch’s cauldron full of activity.

Acoustic blues, rockin' at Ernie's  & smokin' that bluegrass
Acoustic blues, rockin' at Ernie's & smokin' that bluegrass
By Chris Aaland
10/17/2019

October is a busy time around the Aaland household. Annual highlights, including apple pressing, pumpkin gathering, wood splitting, chile cooking and leaf raking, and seem to take up every possible moment of the weekend.

Read All in Top Shelf

Day in the Life

On the rocks
On the rocks
By Stephen Eginoire
11/07/2019

Strolling up the Colorado Trail from the Junction Creek Trailhead on a sunny, clear afternoon one might take notice of the subtle play of water, light and stone in the shallow pools and riffles found trailside.

Etched in Stone
Etched in Stone
10/31/2019

In the case of gravestones, symbols are often used to represent or commemorate a soul no longer among the living.

Brown Town
Brown Town
By Stephen Eginoire
10/24/2019

It’s a unique time in the mountains before the snow comes.

Total Slackers
Total Slackers
10/17/2019

What started out as a method for rock climbers to hone their balance and concentration (and remain entertained on rest days), slacklining has evolved into a full-blown sport, if not art.

Read All in Day on the Life