Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. Amos Oz's "My Curls Have Blown All the Way to China," translated from the Hebrew by Maggie Goldberg Bar-Tura, was originally published in the September 21, 2015 issue of The New Yorker.
Please leave your thoughts on the piece or Oz — or whatever else — below and join in the conversation.
I want to thank Adrienne for her initial thoughts — they are so valuable! Here she is with her initial take on this story:
What a brilliant treatment of codependency!
It was uncomfortable to read — to be spun around in Bracha’s mind! But the hardest part to read was her conversation with her grandson at the end. I had begun to believe she would be okay, maybe even grow. She seems to have accepted the event that sparked the story, and we can even feel her loosening her attempts to try and control. Then she violently slams the innocent child with her own self-contrived pain — her warped mindset.
I have never read any Amos Oz before. The way he approached the wounded female protagonist, the way he guided us through the ins and outs of a victim mentality, the sensitivity to the feminine was impressive. I do not know if the female translator had anything to do with this.
So much of this tale points to the hopelessness facing Bracha, even as she tries to claim responsibility — as she tries to find a way to know, even attempt to intuit, all the details so that she may change the situation. The loss of her feminine curls, as symbols of mourning; the image of the hair blowing on the wind, going as far away as China; writing on a notepad, list that turn out to be an unloading of pain, finally addressed to a friend from days gone by; and the stages of grief exemplify her despair. And then the conversation with the grandson . . .
Oh — how my heart broke!
The lists are introduced at the outset, and then pepper the story as Bracha waxes and wanes in her emotions and thoughts. With the first lists, we see clearly her thoughts about herself, her husband, her home, and we just gloss over them. They could be very normal and healthy, but with the husband’s declaration of “I just have no choice,” we reexamine their relationship. It becomes obvious what type of man Moshe is, but it is harder to define Bracha.
I struggled with deciding between compassion and anger for this woman. There was sadness for her loss, bitterness for her mindset, and outrage for her final actions.