Posted by Literary Titan
The End of Days follows the tragic story of Avrum as he spends his young life making his way to America to build a life for himself and hoping to reunite with his brother. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional novel?
TO THE END OF DAYS can best be understood when the characters and episodes are visualized as allegories of biblical narratives. The saga begins with the covenant between God and Abraham (through his mother). That covenant is in effect a prophesy that foretells of the forced separation between the brothers (the separation between the tribe of Judah and the “lost”, or dispersed tribes of Israel – and their eventual reunification.
Avrum and his brother share a tight bond with one another that I truly appreciated. What were some themes that guided you when creating their relationship?
Ianuk, the giant lumberman at the start of the story is the Pharoah of biblical Egypt who held Avraham (the Hebrews) for those years in slavery. The Hebrews then cross the Red Sea to the land of Can’nan (here the water crossed is the Atlantic – and America is the “promised” land). Bella reflects the infamous Golden Calf, Fanny represents the extremely fanatic biblical clerics obsessed with purity (the Essens) – those responsible for the destruction of the temple and the loss of Jerusalem. “The Doctor” (among the woodsman) and “Strulevitch” in Montreal represent Sodom and Gomorrah. Israel’s prophets are represented in Kapitolnik. Avram’s battle with the street gang that so violated Fanny reflects the wars of Israel against those who had so violated the Holy Land and Jerusalem and successfully redeemed it – bonding with an evolved Fanny. The reunion at that time between Avrum and his brother reflects the reunion between all the tribes of Israel in the rebirth of the land (the ingathering of the exiles)
I felt myself immersed in the sights and sounds of early 1900’s America. What kind of research did you do to ensure you maintained accuracy?
I am 80 years old born in Montreal to parents who reached Montreal in the 20″s. No research was necessary.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
There are 2 other books I would like to share with you: Dead-End Sex – 42 accounts from the 42 years of my clinical work as a psychologist. These introduce serious problems with intimacy and failures in relationships, and explaining their core failures. Neurotic Children as Adults: a book as much for people who suffer their lives going nowhere as for truly caring mothers of young infants.
To the End of Days is a pulsing theater rich with allegories of Old Testament narratives. This is the story of a heritage delivered by a mother to her very young sons in the last hours of her life. It is a heritage which man could not modify, time could not temper, and the expanse of oceans could not distance from their lives. This is a book of secrets. The steamy alchemy of will, fate, and destiny deliver a kaleidoscope of everything human and inhuman in man. It is an epic saga charged with life and the thick rich of blood. where lawlessness and anarchy are the vehicles of timeless and inexorable laws of this universe. But all that was promised becomes delivered.
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
When the Cossacks invade their village, young Avrum and his brother Hershel manage to hide and survive the attacks which kill more than 80 members of their small Polish community. Trying to gather their wits about them and come to terms with the deaths of both parents, the two boys decide to make their way to the synagogue in Lvov. The road to Lvov is paved with one horror after another, and a harrowing experience at the home of a decrepit old woman leads to the brothers’ ultimate separation. Avrum, the tragic main character in Arnold Holtzman’s To The End of Days, spends the better part of his young life making his way to America to build a life for himself and, hoping beyond hope, to reunite with Hershel.
Holtzman has the striking ability to appeal to all of the reader’s senses through his writing. The scene in which Avrum and Hershel are fighting for their lives at the cottage of the old woman is particularly gripping. I was utterly repulsed by the vivid descriptions of the vile woman and the filth in which she lived. As horrific as the circumstances were, I was unable to tear myself away from this disturbing string of events. The same can be said for each stage in Avrum’s life. As he moves across the country and eventually on to North America, each new circumstance brings rich details, vivid images of despair, and poignant scenes of his struggle as an immigrant.
The various settings described throughout Avrum’s journey are exceptionally well-written. At every turn, I felt myself immersed in the sights and sounds of early 1900’s America and the Jewish culture. Holtzman leaves nothing to the imagination which, in turn, leaves the reader more time to focus on the plot surrounding Avrum and the subplot focusing on Fanny.
Avrum captured my heart from the moment he and Hershel faced the fate of their mother. His heart-wrenching grief and his determination to find his brother dominate his life for years, and are the driving force behind everything he does from finding work and wrestling when offered the opportunity to pursuing every lead no matter how futile it may seem. Avrum’s strength is unmatched.
Bella is not a character I enjoyed–but I wasn’t supposed to feel warm toward her. Holtzman has done a phenomenal job creating a selfish, arrogant, and needy female match for unlucky Avrum. Though she doesn’t make her true intentions known until much later in her relationship with Avrum, I admit I was suspicious of her from the beginning. She is one of those characters who is far too concerned with making herself understood and appreciated. The author has succeeded phenomenally in creating a character worthy and deserving of the reader’s loathing.
Intermingled with the characteristics of historical fiction is a pleasing amount of mystery. Avrum encounters numerous clues to Hershel’s fate throughout the years, but the author skillfully weaves a web of subplots while redirecting the reader’s attention. Even to the final pages, I was yet unsure of poor Hershel’s fate. Kudos to Holtzman–this is how I prefer my fiction.
Fans of historical fiction will appreciate the insanely detailed descriptions of the havoc wreaked by the Cossacks and the accuracy regarding the Jewish culture. Avrum and Hershel represent everything that was wrong with this period in world history and everything that can go incredibly right when a man remains unfailingly loyal to his family.
Pages: 410 | ASIN: 1977981844
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