Must one suffer and then feel death's ice-cold breath on the nape of one's neck in order to understand why one has been going around since earliest childhood with an ill-defined despondency close to melancholy?
I felt it long before the trial.
I felt it on the day Dr. Feldman explained to me, in a gentle, slow voice, as though he were addressing a child, that the body can become our implacable enemy.
One day, I thought, I'll turn it into a novel.
Concerning the trial, I had long been convinced that I'd never know the truth of what really happened that day between the two men, blood relations, in the high mountains of the Adirondacks.
Accident? Suicide? Murder? Can one willingly take to the grave an enigma that refuses to disclose its secret?
What evil spirit had driven Werner Sonderberg to take a break from his classes at New York University and leave town for a trip so far from the Village with the aged, disillusioned relative said to be his uncle? Yedidyah wondered. What could they have said to each other for their quarrel to reach a pitch of deadly violence? And who was this uncle whose tragic death, far from anyone, loomed over the Manhattan courtroom filled with journalists, lawyers, and curious onlookers for days and days?
The media, absorbed by ever-changing current events, or from boredom, no longer mention the trial. The fate of an individual matters little compared to the goings-on of political, financial, and artistic celebrities. But Yedidyah thinks about it often, too often probably; in fact, he remains haunted by it. Remembered images from the trial never leave him; and the proceedings echo in his mind. The lit-up room; the jury members, whose faces were alternately impassive and horrified; the judge, who at times looked like he was dozing but never missed a word of what was being said; the prosecutor, who thought he was the avenging angel. And the defendant, oscillating between defiance and remorse, avoiding the mournful gaze of his beautiful fiancée. Sometimes, when Yedidyah assesses his work, with its setbacks and intervals of calm, his dazzling triumphs and slow or dizzying failures, this trial stands out for him like black granite attracting the twilight. Years have gone by, but Yedidyah still can't reach a verdict.
Where does a man's guilt begin and where does it end? What is definitive, irrevocable?
One thought has obsessed him constantly since then. Thanks to Dr. Feldman's diagnosis, he became conscious of his mortality: Could he possibly go, and duly leave his children, their mother, Alika, and the entire convulsive and condemned world, without certainty?
The card security code is an added safeguard for your credit/debit card purchases. Depending on the type of card you use, it is either a three- or four-digit number printed on the back or front of your credit/debit card, separate from your credit/debit card number. To make shopping at Book-of-the-Month Club®
even more secure, we require that you enter this number each time you make a credit/debit card purchase. Please note that your security code will not be stored with us even if you have saved your credit/debit card information.