If you're new to Uvi Poznansky's considerable talents, you are in for a treat when you open up The Music of Us.
If you are already a fan of Poznansky's knack for storytelling, then you won't be disappointed, but you will be surprised. At least I was, and delighted too, with the way she doused her story of love and passion, both won and lost, with well timed interludes of humor. Previously, I've not seen her use such well refined bits of comic relief—some flirting with irony, some bordering on slapstick— in ways that meld with the story, making it stronger, more believable by accentuating love's embrace and desires intensity. Her deft anointing of Uncle Schmeel, Natasha's mother, and Ryan's erstwhile girlfriend as both originators and butts of whim and amusement makes them creditable, enjoyable witnesses to Lenny and Natasha's romance.
Consider these tastes of Uvi's new command of spontaneous silliness:
Leaning forward on her elbow and cupping all three of her chins in her hand, the old woman studied me at great length. At last she said, “It's more generous than anyone can imagine, to the point that it makes me wonder.”
“About your wisdom, naturally! Because if you're clever then I must worry about your intentions, and if you're not, then I must worry why Natasha would fall in love with such a nincompoop. Either way, I must protect her.”
And in another scene:
“Oh, forget them.” “Yeah. Drat those English ladies!” “Amen,” I said, absentmindedly. “So to make a short story long,” she droned on, “let me tell you about what happened at that party.”
As any reader of her past work knows, Uvi is The Supreme Mistress of the first person. In this tale she surpasses her own mastery of first-person narration. She slides so delicately from present to past tense and back to present, from Lenny's voice to Natasha's, that only when you can't find the shift from one to another do you realize it has taken place. She makes me envious, since I consider myself well seasoned in this particular way of telling a story.
My sense is that Uvi Poznansky is a poet first, and then a story teller. No surprise then, that The Music of Us oozes poetic expression in subtle and delightful ways.
Poznansky's use of emotive poetry in her prose is remarkable.
Then sparks came raining down, all the way down through the hollowed floors. They hit the ammunition, then the gasoline, and soon the whole place caught on fire. The blaze roared with such maddening intensity in my head that I paid no attention to the silence, the sudden silence on Aaron's radio. Its battery must have run out of power. It was dead.
I stared at the surface of its wood, which arched into the shape of a cathedral, and prayed that I could still find a touch, a fingerprint, a remnant of Aaron's presence on it.
*** And there, opposite me, my parent's wedding picture used to hang. In its place, a faint rectangle started to appear, as the wall paint all around it had darkened over the years. Everywhere I turned there were blank rectangles marking the boundaries of missing picture frames, of old memories.
For all of its other achievements, a story is a failure if it doesn't entertain. The Music of Us let me admire the writers craftsmanship while being caught up in Lenny's moment—moved by his circumstance, feeling his love for Natasha, mourning his loss. Ergo—I was entertained. Kudos, Uvi, for a story well told.