New York 1, Tel Aviv 0

Herizons - - Arts & Culture -

Shelly Oria

Bond Street Books

Re­view by An­jana Balakr­ish­nan New York 1, Tel Aviv 0 is con­tem­po­rary fic­tion at its best.Shelly Oria’s de­but col­lec­tion of short sto­ries dis­cusses iden­tity, re­la­tion­ships, stereo­types and con­structed (and con­stricted) re­al­ity, and how these con­cepts play out in the ev­ery­day trio of love, loss and life.Oria cre­ates in her sto­ries a po­tent in­ti­macy that will res­onate with even the most de­tached reader.To cre­ate this in­ti­macy, she holds the reader’s hand while lend­ing a peek into her un­par­al­leled imag­i­na­tion.

Most of the 18 short sto­ries in this col­lec­tion ring true with Oria’s Is­raeliAmer­i­can ori­gins.My favourites were “Wait,” a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween an even­tu­ally di­vorced cou­ple re­gard­ing the hus­band’s de­ci­sion to have a baby with his new girl­friend, and “Doc­u­men­ta­tion,” a story about the life of a re­la­tion­ship told through num­bered kisses.How­ever, the cheeki­est lines are found in “Fully Zipped.” “My name is Andy if you need any­thing,” one char­ac­ter states.“What is your name if I don’t need any­thing?” replies the other.

What I found very in­ter­est­ing is how Oria crafts lay­ers of iden­tity: of self, of na­tion­al­ity and of ur­ban alien­ation.In fact, most of her pro­tag­o­nists strug­gle with their iden­ti­ties, while those around them seem to have found them­selves. Oria han­dles their re­la­tion­ships with in­tu­ition, faith and hope—sans drama. This comes through in pas­sages like, “Pre­dictable ques­tions only lead to pre­dictable an­swers.In­stead, I of­fered water­melon.”

Oria draws the reader in at mo­ments that pop with sen­ti­ment: “The next thing that hap­pened was hap­pi­ness!” She also prompts the reader to be in­tro­spec­tive, a gift that sin­gles her out from the crowd.“The Be­gin­ning of a Plan” is a story about a cou­ple who learn to stop time.What hap­pens when time stops? In an ef­fort­less para­graph, the au­thor makes the reader re­al­ize our re­liance on the ar­bi­trary con­cept that is the mea­sure­ment of time.

Oria is the kind of au­thor whose work will last for gen­er­a­tions.If you would like to un­der­stand where fic­tion writ­ing is at right now, I highly rec­om­mend this book.

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