Don’t let Aviya Kushner fool you.
This not a book about grammar or words, though there is plenty of succulent discussion of both in this remarkable offering from a young Jewish writer and teacher.
It is principally a sustained reflection upon memory and how to remember well.
Kushner writes from a tradition that treasures remembering as the last bulwark against disaster. She is a master chronicler of the memory craft, passed on to her by parents who did not grow weary of arguing about words, the tradents of memory, the traditioners of a people, the access to a God who for all of us uncanny evasiveness both speaks and is spoken about.
From the idiosyncratic and unpromising project of laying biblical translations beside each other in coffee shops in Iowa, New York, and Tel Aviv, Kushner spins a tale of the richness of words, the promise and portent of language that yields its treasures only to those who linger long with it, and her undying affection for a family that taught her to love words before it she made her way to … well … to Iowa.
The author treats us to reflections on:
√ How It (Never) Ends
Her ruminations are rooted in the Bible (Hebrew and English), in the commentary of rabbis (early and medieval), and in the dinner-time rows of a family that argued as it ate. About words. About God. About matters both penetrable (if you harry them hard enough) and eternally impenetrable.
The truly frightening thing about Aviya Kushner’s The Grammar of God is that it appears to be the proverbial first book from the pen of this gifted writer.
After a beginning this good, what might she get up to next?