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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Hal David Walks On By

Hurrah! Finally something good for Israel emerged from this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

After days of snarling, malign social terrorism directed against the Batsheva Dance Company, came news of Shachar Lavi’s win at  a  fringe event.  Shachar.Lavi

I can but speculate that the pro-Palestinian activists were so busy making life miserable for everyone associated with Batsheva’s performances, that they were unaware of Lavi’s appearance at the Grant's True Tales Festival of Storytelling where he recalled his barmitzvah and how his grandfather, a shochet (ritual slaughterer) killed his  pet lamb in honour of the occasion.

It sounds like a super short story and so I mention it as an entree to another look at micro-mini short stories – ‘flash fiction’ -  a genre which I esteem highly and to which I am now devoting myself, apart from my posts here.

So first, I must pay tribute to American lyricist, Hal David who began working life by studying journalism at New York University and remarked during an interview in 1999 that he thought of song-writing as like telling a tale.

Hal.David"The songs should be like a little film, told in three or four minutes. Try to say things as simply as possible, which is probably the most difficult thing to do," he said.

I argue that had David not become a star lyricist, he’d have made a fine modern poet, perhaps a feature photo-journalist or if he could draw – even a cartoonist.

Indeed, I was wholly unsurprised to discover that a more modest prize-winning writer, UK-based Jonathan Pinnock is someone who may describe himself as a ‘cartoonist in progress’. He may agree with me that “the art of the short-story writer is that of the cartoonist. It is the magical craft of creating entire worlds with a few simple strokes of a pen.”

Calum.KerrBut I can’t go further without mentioning another fellow Brit, writer and academic Calum Kerr, who has helped to make flash fiction super-fashionable both through his radio broadcasts and as Director of National Flash-Fiction Day.

Last, I want to return to Israel where ‘king of flash’ is Etgar Keret whose work is so highly regarded that his story, Siren - which deals with the paradoxes of modern Israeli society - is on the Bagrut (Matriculation) literature curriculum.  Etgar.Keret

Keret is the son of Polish Holocaust survivors and it is sometimes said that his surreal work – blending the ordinary with magical realism - is more ‘Jewish’ than ‘Israeli’ although he was born in Ramat Gan in 1967 – the year of the Six Day War. 


“If you see me walking down the street
And I start to cry each time we meet
Walk on by, walk on by

“Make believe
that you don't see the tears
Just let me grieve
in private 'cause each time I see you
I break down and cry
And walk on by (don't stop)
And walk on by (don't stop)
And walk on by

“I just can't get over losing you
And so if I seem broken and blue
Walk on by, walk on by

“Foolish pride
Is all that I have left
So let me hide
The tears and the sadness you gave me
When you said goodbye
Walk on by
and walk on by
and walk by (don't stop)

“Walk on by, walk on by
Foolish pride
Is all that I have left
So let me hide
The tears and the sadness you gave me
When you said goodbye
Walk on by (don't stop)
and walk on by (don't stop)
and walk by (don't stop)”


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