Saturday, August 30, 2014

"Home" is Exquisite, Extraordinary, Unique, & Superb

Thomas Jerome Baker is an author of romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. He is also a top Amazon reviewer, who ranks top 1000. I am thrilled to find his review of my book, Home:

5.0 out of 5 stars  "Home" is Exquisite, Extraordinary, Unique, & SuperbAugust 30, 2014
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This review is from: Home (Kindle Edition)
This is an extraordinary book. I had read other books from Uvi Poznansky before so I knew I was in for an enjoyable read. What makes this book extraordinary is the fact that it represents the efforts of Uvi to render a fitting tribute to her father, Zeev Kachel. It is a collection of poems and prose, half written by her, and half by her father. This combination is unique, and made even more so by its posthumous nature.

This brings to mind Natalie Cole singing a duet with her late father, Nat King Cole. My favorite is listening to both of them singing, "Unforgettable". Here's how she describes it: ""I think it's always a little bit bittersweet when I do it," Cole said of recording duets with her late father, who passed at age 45 from lung cancer, "but I do love to do it because I feel so connected to him. ... It's still emotional, but it still feels good, so you always still want to hold on to that feeling." (Source: ET interview)

Here's how Uvi describes "Home": "Home. A simple word; a loaded one. You can say it in a whisper; you can say it in a cry. Expressed in the voices of father and daughter you can hear a visceral longing for an ideal place, a place never to be found again." (end of quote)

As a teacher, the poem written by Zeev Kachel that caught my attention the most is called, "My Teachers". It is profoundly insightful, personifying "chill", "time" and "dream", essentially elevating these three concepts to the status of teacher. Coming to the poem, I am expecting the story of "real" teachers who impacted his life in a memorable way, and instead, I am greeted with a metaphorical trinity who are uniquely worthy of the status accorded them by the poet. For me, this is a very powerful, evocative poem that I am able to relate to.

In sum, allow me only one word: extraordinary. I have seen no other book like this. It is superb, exquisite, a literary duo that rivals the musical duo of Natalie and Nat King Cole in every way. Highly recommended.

Love? Lust? Or decadence?

"Having sent my spiritual advisor on his errand and Benaiah on his mission I run down to the King’s Gardens and back up again, bringing with me a huge bouquet of freshly picked Jasmine flowers, which fills my chamber with a sweet fragrance. It is then that time takes a strange, unexpected turn. It slows down. 
I have no idea how much of it I have wasted since the beginning of my wait. All I know is that it feels without an end. 
And despite knowing that I have arrived, that I am at the prime of my life, I feel, once again, like a teenager. She loves me, she loves me not. With a flick of my wrist, white petals start scattering across the marble floor.
I go out to the roof and pace to and fro. Already, there is chill in the air. The rays of the setting sun give a last flicker before darkness, before a sensation of fear sets in. Then they withdraw, hesitating to touch the tabernacle of God down there, below me.
Coming back in I set the twin sconces, left and right of the chamber door, aflame. Which is when, to the quickening of my pulse, I see it opening. 
There she is, lifting her little foot and setting it across the threshold."

David in A Peek at Bathsheba

In this excerpt I explore the moment of anticipation, before Bathsheba comes to David. He can still back down from going ahead with this forbidden affair, which is why I make frequent mention of the presence of the tent of God, the presence of his conscience. 

Is this a moment of pure love? Lust? Decadence? I explore all these possibilities, because the relation between David and Bathsheba is so deliciously rich and complex. My writing is greatly informed by works of art throughout the ages. Compare how these three artists saw the relationship between David and Bathsheba.

Gustav Adolf Mossa ((born 1883) is a French Symbolist painter. He depicts the relationship as one of decadence, and describes the lovers in French attire. There is an age difference between the two, and their conversation is depicted as sharing a hushed secret.

Ernst Fuchs (born 1930) is an Austrian painter, draftsman, printmaker, sculptor, architect, stage designer, composer, poet, singer and one of the founders of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. Here, too, David and Bathsheba face each other, they meld together in the heat of passion, David taking over nearly the entire space, and her as well. The scene is depicted in an exotic manner, and modeled after Egyptian wall paintings.

Marc Chagall said, "Will God or someone else give me the strength to breathe the breath of prayer and mourning into my paintings, the breath of prayer for redemption and resurrection?" And indeed, in his painting he expresses great devotion, a love that is meant to be. David and Bathsheba face each other, foreheads touching gently, he caresses her shoulder as if to comfort her.


Gustav Adolf Mossa, David and Bathsheba

Ernst Fuchs, David and Bathsheba

Marc Chagall, David and Bathsheba

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"She writes with a calm and steady hand that plucks the strings of her tale with a lyrical precision that leaves the reader deeply entrenched in her words long after the last page"

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Behind the scenes look: being young, being old

When I sculpt a figure, such as here, in one of my earliest pieces, I let it age and become young again, adding and reducing wrinkles as the piece is being formed. For me, working on the audiobook of A Favorite Son is no different, and let me tell you why...


My work was lucky enough to attract the attention of an amazingly gifted voice actor, David Kudler. He is a man of a thousand voices. He says, "It's nice to let them out of my head from time to time." This story provides a great challenge for him, because it starts in the voice of Old Jacob, then as he plunges into the depth of his memories about a crime he committed in his youth, it continues in the voice of the young Jacob. Listen to 'take 1':


If your browser wouldn't play it, try this.

Problem is, the transition between the two voices, the old and the young. Because it happens 'turning on a dime', the listener may think that a new character has just stepped onto the scene. So, here is a different transition, where the voice of old Jacob trails off to a whisper, at the same time that the voice of young Jacob comes in from a whisper to full volume. Listen to 'Take 2: 


If your browser wouldn't play it, try this.

Maybe I'm too picky, but I felt uneasy with 'take 2'. I figured, it is crucial we arrive at a good solution, one that does not jar the ear, one that invites the listener to the journey, so she takes a plunge into the past or rises out of it into the present, together with the character. It is also crucial because we will have more transitions coming up in the next three chapters of the book, so the same solution will apply. It will, in fact, become an audio motive of sorts. 

What i envisioned in my mind was this: with no technological 'gimmick' (such as the double track of voices in 'Take 2'), David will start the transition being old, and gradually, word by word, become young! This may be a great acting challenge, because all the listener has to go on is your voice--there is no visual clue such as the incredible hulk changing color to green, and bursting out of a body of a small little guy, whose clothes hang in tatters by the end of the transition. Take a listen to 'take 3', which is the final take, and let me know what you think:


If your browser wouldn't play it, try this.

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"I can't praise the writing enough; the author has an incredible voice"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A calm and steady hand that plucks the strings of her tale with a lyrical precision

I am so thrilled to discover an eloquent new review, written by a Top 500 Amazon Reviewer! Here is what Dii wrote for of my novel, A Peek at Bathshaba:

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Work of Art from Uvi PoznanskyAugust 25, 2014
By 
This review is from: A Peek at Bathsheba (The David Chronicles Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
Young David slew Goliath and became a hero, a legend, blessed by God to become a powerful and intelligent ruler, with a dream of uniting the many tribes. Time and the pressures of ruling with a firm, but wise hand have taken their toll as he ages and his priorities turn inward as he creates passion through poems and his words. A Peek at Bathsheba by Uvi Poznansky tells of an era in David’s life after he has established himself as king, with a household filled with many trophy wives, a sign of his importance and power. Still, when he sees the beautiful Bathsheba, he must have her and goes so far as to have her husband, loyal to both her and his King, murdered.

Haven’t many wondered of the story of David and Bathsheba, of her influence on him, his love for her and of the live they shared, sometimes passionate, sometimes painful? David is portrayed as having more passion for his surroundings, his poetry and his artistic side, caring less about the political machinations going on around him. Bathsheba appears strong, yet is an outcast among David’s other wives, which proves to bring heartbreak to the couple. Did Bathsheba weaken David or did she give him what he needed when he most needed it to be strong?

Uvi Poznansky has brought a piece of biblical history to life looking upon these characters as humans, with frailties and flaws, giving us a chance to feel we understand a little more of lives lived long ago. Without the needs for the speech of the era, Ms. Poznansky delivers a deeply thought-provoking tale written with the artistic grace that is her signature style. She writes with a calm and steady hand that plucks the strings of her tale with a lyrical precision that leaves the reader deeply entrenched in her words long after the last page.

A chance is not something that is given. It is something you take.

My very first 'real' job was at T.O.A.M., a small architectural firm in Haifa, Israel. The work done in this firm was not part of the architectural mainstream. On the drawing board were the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute, which "dabbles it feet in the water" (as architect Ram Karmi described it.)  Also, Beit Halohem (The Fighter's Home) which  exhibits "impressive virtuosity in geometric combinations" (as architect Abba Elhanani wrote of it.)

At the beginning of my four years at the firma period which coincided with my studies at the TechnionI was thrilled at the opportunity to learn. But after a while I started to feel uneasy with the limited responsibility I was given, designing various details, such as staircases, railings, and small spaces in Beit HaLochem. 


I went to my boss, the notoriously famous architect David Yanai, who at the time had exposed a corruption scandal in the construction of the project. The public fight which ensued meant that Beit Halochem was already doomed to remain on paper. I was young, and oblivious to this. All I wanted was to take a greater role in the design. I told him, "I want to be given a chance."

He repliedI will never forget it"A chance is not something that is given. It is something you take."

Either way, I came out of that meeting with the chance I wanted: My new responsibility was to design the entire landscape around Beit Halochem, which was to be built on the side of the Carmel mountain, overlooking a breathtaking view of Haifa Bay.


In later years, when I came to visit the site, I saw the skeletal remains of the building, rusting there among the rocks on the steep slope, which is overgrown with thorny, wild weeds. Still, I see in my minds eye is papers upon papers of my landscape design, still rustling there, waiting. And all I can hear are those words, "A chance is not something that is given. It is something you take."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Engrossing, Personable, and Poetic #audible #audiobook

Lovely new audible review by Jennifer Garcia for the audiobook edition of Rise to Power:

Jennifer GarciaLos Angeles, CA USA08-24-14
Overall
Performance
Story











"Engrossing, Personable, and Poetic"
This is the second book of Uvi's I've read and I enjoyed it. First, I'd like to say that the audio version is incredible and the narrator excellent. He truly did a wonderful job telling this story.

I am not well versed in the bible and did not really know the story of David. So this story was like reading any other historical fiction, but so much better.

The story begins with David ill and dying. As he fades away, losing his kingdom, he tells the story of his life. It is an interesting and well told story. It was history told in a modern way, which made it so easy to understand. There were no complicated words to look up or try to understand. It was all very straight forward. It made the flow of the story seamless.

David grew up with a struggle but a lot of smarts or luck on his side. As much trouble as he found, he seems to have weaseled his way out of it all. I was completely engrossed once David began to tell his story, and found his story telling to be personable and poetic.

If you like historical fiction and great story telling, I recommend this book to you.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bring me along, when you celebrate Labor Day

Bring me along when you celebrate Labor Day   
Apart From Love, I'm your prize   
It's a chance to imagine, to let me play   
A story of passion before your eyes   
   
Take a deep breath and take me outdoors   
Watch the leaves falling, singing autumn blues   
If you touch me, I'll be all yours   
My pages will rustle, and awaken your muse


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Pyramus and Thisby, or How We View Slang in Literature

You may recall the play-in-a-play, performed by the rude mechanics at the end of Midsummer Night's Dream, aptly described in their own words as 'The most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.' These would-be actors, whose ability to express themselves is unabashedly mocked by their audience, are used by Shakespeare mainly for comic relief. The play they perform is merely a farce of the Romeo and Juliet love story. Why, you may ask? Because like most artists and playwrights of that era, the bard knew only too well that he ought to entertain and complement his patrons, the most important of which where members of the royal court. This is the reason that characters who speak in slang were nearly never placed center-stage, as the hero of the story. Such characters were portrayed as simpletons, and by no means were they given any depth of feeling. 

It was only later in the history of literature that characters of the lower class were taken seriously, and their point of view began to resonate, despite much controversy, with readers and theatre goers. For example, Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States. And yet today, it is recognized as an American classic, giving voice to teenage confusion, angst, alienation and rebellion. I suggest to you that even today, there are two clashing views about the use of slang-talking characters, one from those who see themselves as 'upscale, educated nobility'--and the other, the more 'democratic' one, from the rest of us.

Recently I was reminded of this clash, when I posted an excerpt from Apart From Love in Anita's voice. You would be hard-pressed to find a three-syllable word in anything she says. The lack of long words is compensated by descriptive sequence of short words (see the replacement for ‘magnifying glass’ below.) You can spot a liberal use of the dreaded double-negative, and of the word ‘like’. In the excerpt she describes the memory of her first kiss with Lenny. Some readers told me, tongue-in-cheek, that the would need a cold shower by the time she completes her story. But one reader found the style of the excerpt incosistent. He complained that at times Anita is lyrical, and at other times her thoughts are expressed in slang.

As a side note, let me share a little secret with you: even though that reader rejected the excerpt on intellectual grounds (which he is entitled to do) he did get it on an intuitive level. How do I know this? Because the very same day I got a 'romantic' invitation from him to join a social network for setting up dates. So, Anita's hot description did its charm on him, and for some reason, he must have combined to two of us in his mind. I had a little chuckle about this, as did my loved one...

So I ask you: why can't a character combine both? Are we still bound to write for the Pyramus and Thisby audience? Even if your grammar is atrocious, even if your vocabulary is somewhat lacking, does that mean you can't feel the throes of pain, or the exhilaration of joy? Does it mean you can't paint what you see, feel and think? As you form your own answer, I invite you to sense the texture and the power of unrefined language, by listening to Anita's voice once more:

"What matters is only what’s here. I touch my skin right under my breasts, which is where the little one’s curled, and where he kicks, ‘cause he has to. Like, he don’t feel so cosy no more. Here, can you feel it? I reckon he wants me to talk to him. He can hear me inside, for sure. He can hear every note of this silvery music.
It ripples all around him, wave after wave. I can tell that it’s starting to sooth him. It’s so full of joy, of delight, even if to him, it’s coming across somewhat muffled. Like a dream in a dream, it’s floating inside, into his soft, tender ear.
I close my eyes and hold myself, wrapping my arms real soft—around me around him—and I rock ever so gently, back and forth, back and forth, with every note of this silvery marvel. You can barely hear me—but here I am, singing along. I’m whispering words into myself, into him."



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“A very passionate book! Gripping, riveting, and fascinating!”