Upon the Lion and the Serpent

Upon the Lion and the Serpent
Cactus Moon Publications. USA.
2018. Forthcoming.

Upon the Lion and the Serpent helps to illuminate the Israeli perspective on current Middle Eastern and European Crises. This novel tells of the struggles of disparate family members in the context of our imperfectly unified nation. Included in this tale are: settlers hurt by terrorists, grandparents stymied by aging, the temptations of worldly values and their consequential path to financial misfortune, and the trials of a young adult, who is suddenly impacted by severe disability.

This book employs no gentling words, but rather gives over characters that pull "their hearts out of their bodies and hold them suspended" or who flaunt murderous knives “ornamented with silver grips and flakes of blood." In Upon the Lion and the Serpent, a widow is someone “not yet accustomed to the permanently vacant place on the other side of her bed," a mentally ill lady is someone sitting on the floor hugging herself, and a philosophically distraught individual is a man pulled between loyalty to his people and his personal needs.

Upon the Lion and the Serpent depicts beauty not as the stuff of makeup and of couture, but of alpine flowers and pinecone dolls, of children who stack bathroom towels neatly, and of friends who remember to call back. While the Galil’s red cyclamen and the sky blue doors of Tsfat color these pages, the most fantastic natural spectacle, here, is the eight-year old that weighs fibbing against chocolates.

A palpable account of human complexity and growth, Upon the Lion and the Serpent blends feet-on-the-ground reality with head-in-the-Heavens idealism, all the while making it tough for readers to simply hate or to blindly laud certain elements of society. On the one hand, the protagonists, the Grunsteins, organize charity drives and learning programs, walk with pride through a loud gauntlet of anti-Semites, and serve on neighborhood committees. On the other hand, they burn their toast, misplace their house keys, and talk to light bulbs. Some of them fail to wait for clearance when bombs are dropping. Others negotiate tee-shirt diapers, rationed toilet paper, and hungry, stressed-out kids. These players, like most of us, are intermittently funny and tragic.

Accordingly, the Grunsteins’ tests and their responses to those difficulties help to make readers more mindful of their own challenges and of their own gifts. While not all members of this book’s audience will enjoy the reward of a new bride, or of friends reclaiming their heritage, and while not all readers will suffer the cultural assimilation of loved ones, or the slow progress toward death of their matriarchs, all will be able to use Upon the Lion and the Serpent as a place from which to begin the journey of clarifying life’s treats and troubles.