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13 June 2012

Book Review: Regarding the Fountain

Regarding the FountainRegarding the Fountain by Kate Klise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delightful.  Truly delightful.

And being mired in an organization where I am charged with being creative while balancing that creativity on a general ledger and booking a profit, I found particular joy in the exchanges between Florence Waters and Walter Russ, the principal of the school.

Principal Russ requests, "Product: drinking fountain.  Style: plain.  Price: modest."

Florence Waters answers, "You sound just like the author of that little book of directions that came with my blender."

I left this book wanting to find more strength to be a Florence Waters in a world run by Walter Russes.

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Book Review: The Lemon Tree

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle EastThe Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whenever I read books like this, I wonder about the men who sit around in secret rooms, redrawing the world's boundaries.  It never goes well but people keep doing it.  The founding of Israel is one such moment in time.  

This book focuses on one house and two families that call it home;  this is the microcosmic metaphor for the whole larger quagmire.  The Jew acknowledges that she stole the Arab's home but cannot go so far as to say he can have it back.  It is not enough for the Arab to hear that the Jew admits that wrongs were perpetrated;  nothing short of return is good enough.

There is no middle ground.

And if there is no middle ground, there is no resolution possible.

The Lemon Tree presents the history of the land interlocked with the smaller histories of two families caught in the whirlwind sociopolitical change told through the lens of a house that means so much for so many reasons.

The book is eminently readable.  It gives no answer.

But at the end, the Jew plants a new lemon tree in the courtyard of the home which used to be the Arab's home but was then the Jews home and is now a school for Arab children in the heart of Israel.  "This dedication is without obliterating the memories.  Something is growing out of old history.  Out of the pain, something new is growing."

And that is all we can hope for.

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