Some writers slow down with age. Their books take longer to appear, their delivery live is more halting, their stories are repetitive, confusing or meandering. Not so Amos Oz. Over the past three decades that I’ve seen him, his calm but forceful delivery has become more fluent, more persuasive and, indeed, wiser.
On Tuesday morning, May 4, Oz’s 71st birthday he addressed a sellout crowd of several hundred in the conference tent at Mishkenot Sha’ananim. The talk was billed as one of the daily “Israeli Mornings” at the International Writers’ Conference — “Reading and conversation with Amos Oz.” In the event, Oz read from “A Tale of Love and Darkness” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004) and then told stories about his family and the extended family of Israel.
These stories were not necessarily or factually true ones. Oz particularly objected to that book having been categorized by various competitions as memoir or simple autobiography. In the hour long, spellbinding disquisition he took pains to take down the walls between the categories of memoir and story, of fact and fiction, of tragedy and comedy.