Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Apeirogon

By Lynn Willoughby

Apeirogon ~ Colum McCann

This is a work of fiction, but is based on the real events and the real lives of Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian, and Rami Elhanen, an Israeli. “McCann daringly weaves together elements of speculation, memory, fact, and imagination.”  I was transfixed.

This is so much more than the story of these two men. There is a myriad of …”seemingly unrelated cultural, historical and biographical snapshots.” I  learned so much of the complex history of that geographical area, of war in general, of the two or three seconds of consciousness after decapitation when the brain is still functioning. I now know that Arabian horses have one less vertebra than other breeds. I know that Arabian mares were used by Bedouin tribes as war horses, for they did not nicker or neigh when they approached an enemy camp and their silence was venerated. Did you know that the call for help “Mayday”  is always repeated three times? If said only once it could be misinterpreted, but three times cannot be mistaken. In Beersheba prison, married prisoners use cardboard blow guns made from toilet paper rolls, to send love notes to their wives and children who are waiting outside the prison gates. Certain birds are said to sleep in mid-flight on long migrations. They do so in short ten second bursts. The bird is able to switch off one side of its brain in order to rest, while the other side continues it’s rhythmic vigilance to avoid crashing and to watch for predators. A Frigate bird can stay aloft for two whole months without touching down on land or water!

Yes, this is the story of Bassam – a Muslim, and Rami – a Jew, who become friends against all odds. It is their story – but it is so very much more. If you love reading about history read this book!

  • Thirteen Ways of Looking
  • Let the Great World Spin

Who Knew?

The Green Line is the demarcation line set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between the armies of Israel and those of its neighbours – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. This uprooted and expelled about 700,000 Palestinian refugees, whose descendants now number 7 million and are still considered refugees.

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