A fevered storyteller and a captive audience revisit the past together in each of David Grossman's new novellas, trying to make sense of a betrayal that neither one can put to rest.
In "Frenzy," reserved, respectable Shaul lets his sister-in-law, Esti, into a secret nightmare, as he reveals to her his conviction that his wife is having an affair. Along with Esti, we find ourselves trapped in his paranoia and desperation as we accompany the odd pair down Israel's highways on a journey that reveals a passion perverted by jealousy and self-loathing.
In the title story, a successful but embittered novelist visits her mother, who is in the last stages of cancer. Grossman investigates the powers of storytelling to harm and heal as the daughter reads aloud her own imagined, merciless account of her mother's love affair with a much younger teenage boy. Gradually it becomes clear that, for all its anger, the daughter's story and the writing process itself have led her to a new appreciation of her mother's difficult character, and her own.
Studies in obssession, claustrophobia, and the need to confess, these two novellas mark a new departure from "a writer who has been, for nearly two decades, the one of the most original and talented ... anywhere." (The New York Times Book Review).