A Horse Walks Into a Bar, David Grossman, 2017

I loved this book.  I hated this book. It made me laugh out loud.  It had me sobbing at a corner table at a Starbucks in Portage, Indiana.   Grossman gives us the autobiography of Dov Greenstein, not through the traditional fiction techniques of the first person description or the third person observation, or a recitation of facts or a story woven with the events of a life, but through the ‘novel’ technique of having Dov tell his story while doing stand-up comedy at a small club in Netanya, Israel. Having asked a childhood friend whom he has not seen for 40 years to come and watch the show in order to tell him what  is the ‘thing that comes out of a person without his control’.  The friend, a judge who was forced to retire because of his angry outbursts from the bench and newly widowed, as well as a strange midget who knew Dov as a child, provide external validation and testing of the story, while the Holocaust lingers always in the background with the terrible term ‘selektzia’ applying to many areas  of Dov’s life.  Painful and difficult to read at times, the story is a beautiful rendering of a life beset by the tragic legacies of parents who themselves had grown up with even more tragic legacies—the Holocaust, immigration, poverty, mental instability, and finally death.  Grossman has achieved a major work.