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Jerusalem Out Front, Bethlehem Outback - A Book Review

Illustration by Ron Mader

Jerusalem Out Front, Bethlehem Outback
By Sue Tourkin Komet*
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Reviewed by Morty Leibowitz

In university I took a course entitled 'Stream of Consciousness in the Modern Novel'. It included the study of books by William Faulkner, Virginia Wolf and James Joyce, each of whom brought their own unique style of letting their thoughts run onto the page, with a minimum of composition, editing or organizational structure.

Jerusalem Out Front, Bethlehem Outback, a compendium of essays and poems written by Sue Tourkin Komet over her lifetime, brought me back to that course. Her book is carefully organized by the stages of her life, including sections devoted to childhood, formative years, aliyah, mid-life and a concluding section, charmingly entitled, 'Hot Flashes and Flashbacks'. Despite that structure the individual pieces, some more, some less, represent an eloquent flow of random ideas and encounters that together describe a life-time.

Her inspiration to be a writer she ascribes to an encounter at age 7, with her second-grade teacher and some ensuing confusion when she, Sue, was exposed for the first time to the word Sioux, representing a native American tribe. I cite it as it illustrates some of the charm in many of the pieces. Other pieces, such as a much too detailed description of an emergency landing in a Jumbo-Jet, leave much to be desired.

The poetry, some written in forced and awkward rhymes, and some written in free form is also inconsistent, but when taking in her stream of consciousness as she moves through a life so familiar to many of us, over-all the book contains a distinctive charm.

Recommended as an interesting book for browsing and remembering, but not as a serious read.

* Sadly, the author died in 2017 during the production of the book. 



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