by Mark Podwal
I should stop reading press releases. They, well, de-press me. This one was chock full of blurbs by such literary heavyweights as Nobel laureate Eli Wiesel (“will bring the city closer to you”), Cynthia Ozick (“the very hues of Paradise”), even Maurice Sendak (“fierce bite, healthy spirit and sheer joyousness”).
You’d think Solomon, Jesus and Mohammed all co-wrote it.
So who am I to criticize Podwal, whose paintings hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and who’s a medical doctor in his “spare” time? Not to mention all the fancy fellowships and awards he’s received. I take it Podwal couldn’t write a bad book if someone mugged him and stole all his ideas (hey, let ‘em blurb that).
He brings his literary and artistic heft to bear on the City of Peace (cough) by citing legends, no, er, myths … wait, wait … uh, beliefs about the beautiful sky over Jerusalem from all three monotheistic faiths. Stuff like:
Legend says that the Jerusalem sky
has a hole in it
made by a jewel
that fell from God's throne.
Through this hole
hopes reach heaven.
The book doesn’t name names: no Temple Mount, Church of the Holy Sepulchre or Dome of the Rock, nor is there room for a discordant note in this lyrical poem.
We get to pretend all three faiths can actually coexist in pastel-hued, light-infused impressionistic harmony, at least for 30 pages. Dang, I’ll never get blurbed at this rate. Okay, here goes: Moving tribute! Transcendent art! Message of hope, etc! Nice if you’re into this sort of thing!