Life on Sandpaper

Life on Sandpaper

Yoram Kaniuk

History / Cultural / Israel

A whirlwind of art, music, and lust, Life on Sandpaper is Yoram Kaniuk's overwhelming autobiographical novel detailing his years as a young painter in the New York of the '50s. Wounded and alienated, a war veteran at the age of nineteen, Kaniuk arrives in Greenwich Village at its peak period of artistic creativity, and finds his way among such giants as Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Willem de Kooning, and Frank Sinatra. In terse prose, inspired by the associative and breathless drive of bebop, Kaniuk's memories race between the ecstatic devotion of his beloved Harlem jazz clubs, through the ideological spats of the dying Yiddish world of the Lower East Side, to the volcanic gush of passion, pain, art, dance, alcohol, and drugs that was Greenwich Village. Kaniuk's stories roll and tumble here with hypnotic urgency, as if this were his last opportunity to remember, and tell, before all is obliterated.
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1948

1948

Yoram Kaniuk

History / Cultural / Israel

Sixty years after fighting in Israel's War of Independence, Yoram Kaniuk tries to remember what exactly did--and did not--happen in his time as a teenage soldier in the Palmach. The result is a touchingly poignant and hauntingly beautiful memoir that the author himself considers a work of fiction, for what is memory but one's own story about the past? Eschewing self-righteousness in favor of self-criticism, Kaniuk's book, winner of the 2010 Sapir Prize for Literature, is the tale of a younger man told by his older, wiser self--the self who realizes that wars are pointless, and that he and his friends, young men from good homes forming an offbeat band of brothers, were senseless to see glory in the prospect of dying young. But it is also a painful, shocking, and tragically relevant homage to the importance of bearing witness to the follies of the past, even--or especially--when they are one's own.
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