A Favorite Son
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(54 customer reviews)
This story is a present-day twist on the biblical story of Jacob and his mother Rebecca plotting together against the elderly father Isaac, who is lying on his deathbed, in order to get their hands on the inheritance, and on the power in the family. This is no old fairy tale. Its power is here and now, in each one of us.
Listening to Yankle telling his take on events, we understand the bitter rivalry between him and his brother. We become intimately engaged with every detail of the plot, and every shade of emotion in these flawed, yet fascinating characters. He yearns to become his father's favorite son, seeing only one way open to him: deceit.
In planning his deception, it is not love for his father, nor respect for his age that drives his hesitation--rather, it is the fear to be found out. And so--covering his arm with the hide of a kid, pretending to be that which he is not--he is now ready for the last moment he is going to have with his father.
- Amazon Sales Rank: #412852 in eBooks
- Published on: 2014-01-14
- Released on: 2014-01-14
- Format: Kindle eBook
Reviews for A Favorite Son:
★ She opens the old story to be instead a lively psychological study of family and of greed and longing for paternal love and more. It works spectacularly well.. -Grady Harp, Hall of Fame Reviewer
From the Author
Would you believe that writing biblically inspired books is a risky proposition? Let me suggest to you that it is. Why?
Because some of your readers may have only a vague recollection of the reference material, back from their days in Sunday school. Others may be totally unfamiliar with it, because they may come from a different culture altogether. So you have to introduce enough of the original story to the readers, and you better do it in a fresh way, one that highlights the immediacy of its meaning. Here, for example, is the voice of Yankle (based on the biblical Jacob) in my book A Favorite Son:
"When I sprinkle my secret blend of spices; here, take a sniff, can you smell it? When I chop these mouthwatering sun-dried tomatoes, add a few cloves of garlic for good measure, and let it all sizzle with lentils and meat--it becomes so scrumptious, so lipsmacking, finger-licking, melt-in-your-mouth good!
There is a certain ratio of flavors, a balance that creates a feast for the tongue and a delight for the mind; and having mastered that balance, with a pinch of imported cumin from the north of Persia, a dash of Saffron from the south of Egypt, I can tell you one thing: When the pot comes to a full bubbling point, and the aroma of the stew rises up in the air--it would make you dribble! Drive you to madness! For a single bite, you would sell your brother, if only you had one!"
By design, his voice is a direct and intimate one, letting you get close enough to taste, or at least to smell the aroma of his lentil soup. Not only that, but the 'you' in this passage is not just the preverbial you. Rather (as is revealed later) it is a character with a complex emotional relationship to the main character: his firstborn, who at the conclusion of the story is just about to fool Yankle in a most devastating way, by letting him believe that Joseph, his favorite son, has been devoured by a wild beast.
No wonder Yankle has a dark side. Here he is, pondering the bitterness of sibling rivalry, and the abuse of an elderly father by his son, which perpetuate themselves here from one generation to the next:
"It is an odd feeling. Have you ever faced it? Being dead to someone you envy; someone you miss, too; someone who knows you intimately and, even worse, has the chutzpa to occupy your thoughts day in, day out. It grinds down on your nerves; doesn't it? Trust me, being dead to your brother is not all that it is cracked up to be, but it does set you free--oh, don't act so surprised! It frees you from any lingering sense of obligation. Brother, you say to yourself. What does it mean, Brother? Nothing more than a pang, a dull pang in your heart.
You have betrayed him. Accept his hate. You need not talk to him ever again. For the rest of your life, you are free! A stranger-- that is what you are. A stranger, visited from time to time by dreams: Dreams about the mother you will never see again, and the father you left behind, on his deathbed. Dreams of waiting, waiting so eagerly for the next day, to meet your brother at the end of an endless exile. Dreams of grappling with him all night long, until the crack of dawn. Until your ankles give way. Until you lose your footing on the ground.
Then, rising up to take you is the darkness of the earth; which is where you wake up at sunrise to find yourself alone."
Some of your readers may be well versed with the reference material, and for them, you better offer an extra layer of meaning. For example, in the passage above, the sentence "Dreams of grappling with him all night long, until the crack of dawn. Until your ankles give way" is an allusion to Jacob grappling with the angel, the night before he meets his brother after years of estrangement. In the biblical story, this is symbolic of Jacob struggling with God. But in my modern interpretation, this is symbolic of Yankle struggling with his curse, the loneliness in which is he is stranded, now that his brother is his enemy.
A Favorite Son does not amplify what the bible says. In fact, it offers a secular point of view, and a mirror to our souls. To me, the bible is rife with drama, sex, and violence, which makes it a rich source, a place to explore the truth about ourselves, about our struggle between the angels and demons inside all of us. My Yankle is no hero, no one you might want to revere. Instead, he is a rebellious teenager, a sly smart-ass about to cheat his father. Which may well offend some readers, especially those who make the mistake to expect nothing more that an expansion of the original story. To such readers, my book may be seen as nothing less than blasphemy.
So? What do you think? Is writing biblically inspired books is a risky proposition?
From the Inside Flap
The cover of A Favorite Son is based on my own mixed media painting. In the original art I floated various paints on the paper, letting them drizzle and mix, to create an intricate, fiery flow of color. Then when they dried out I came in with a black pen, and drew just a few lines to suggest the figure.
To me, this is what this image means: looking directly at yourself, facing the pain and the imperfections within, without any attempt to mask who you are--even if you find yourself on the verge of a meltdown. Which is the process the protagonist, Yankle, is going through in this story. He finds himself coming to terms with his core being, with how the tension between his emotions and needs has driven him over a lifetime. In a most profound sense, this is a story of crime and punishment.
As in my previous book cover designs for Apart From Love and Home, the title and the author name cast a shadow over the image. If you look closely, the shadow has soft, fuzzy borders. However, one detail is different here: two of the letters of the author name cast a shadow like all the other letters, but the two glyphs themselves--U and P--are intentionally missing. Why? For two reasons.
First, because often in my art I discover that the eye is drawn to the unexpected, and the brain rises to the challenge when there is a missing link to resolve. The observer, then, becomes engaged with the art, and in a sense, becomes its creator. And second, because this missing detail is a symbol, an indication of the flawed character in this story.
Most helpful customer reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful.
By Dolores Ayotte
I am an author. Once again, after reading a book penned by gifted Author Uvi Poznansky, I am able to dream of my possible potential should I follow in her footsteps and continue in my endeavors to stretch my talents like she so adeptly manages to do. Her astonishing knack of expertly drawing from her creative and artistic abilities never ceases to amaze me.
Most of us are familiar with the well-known Bible story of Jacob and Esau. Twin sons born to Rebecca and Isaac in their later years, are at odds and in competition to inherit the much coveted blessing from their father on his deathbed. The collaboration that takes place between mother and her favorite son, Yankle, in order to dupe Isaac effectively demonstrates the length some parents will go to in their unfairness, or what I refer to as, the "division" of their love. According to the main thread skillfully woven into this novel, the phenomenon of favoring one child over another may be a curse not only for the favored child but for the rejected one as well. I purposely use the word "division" of love to describe the favoritism both Rebecca and Isaac displayed for opposite sons in this story in order to stress what I consider to be a poignant point.
In my opinion, neither parent expresses true love. True love does not divide families nor does it create ugly competitiveness, sibling rivalry, jealously, hatred, anger and all the other undesirable, negative traits expressed between these two sons. Neither parent shows love for their offspring nor toward each other. It has been said that true love multiplies...it never divides. When one discovers this definition of love and fully embraces this concept, the negative emotions experienced by this family and many others, will no longer exist. To me, that is the true moral to this Bible story.
Ms. Poznansky takes an age old story and gives it a modern twist. The reader is invited into the tortured psyche of Yankle and the grief, guilt, and full knowledge of the consequence of his deception in order to demonstrate what a living hell is all about. Yankle is haunted by his choice, that of manipulating his father's deteriorating physical condition along with his mother, in order to steal his brother, Esav's birthright. He does not want to repeat history in his own life and continue with this kind of favoritism in his relationship with his own sons. This author shows not only by the cover she has so beautifully painted, but also by the words she has so carefully chosen to depict the results of such a past and present dilemma...the consequences of such a devious act.
To quote Ms. Poznansky when describing her book cover, she states, "To me, this is what this image means: looking directly at yourself, facing the pain and the ugly imperfections within, without any attempt to mask who you are--even if you find yourself on the verge of a meltdown." I think each of us will eventually reach this point in life, and regardless of what path we take to get there, we must face ourselves, our actions, our lives and learn what true love is all about...I think this is the genuine motive and goal behind the work of this talented artist and author. Her writing is meant to provoke, prod, persuade, and push us to the limits of our inner selves in order to tie it all together. In my opinion, she is not only showing us a part of herself, her every desire is for us to see our own reflection in her work and see what personal message it holds. She has certainly succeeded with me...
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful.
So which is worse. The betrayal of a son or of a mother?
A biblical fan fic with the emphasis on the dysfunctionality of a family.
A brothers betrayel. A mothers mental dissociative disorder and above all greed.
Lentil soup never tempted me though the kosher -- oops not yet a firm concept -- stew sounds far more appealing.
When a woman faints the first time she sees her husband you know something will go wrong.
Written with a very dry sense of humor using facts of a medley of the Christian and Jewish faith to confuse and lay upon the table the discrepancies of blind faith.
A unique story of human frailty and insecurities which is expressed in greed and deception. A true treasure.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful.
Bringing the familiar to unfamiliar life
By Sheila Deeth
Dysfunctional families aren't reserved just for the modern day, and this story retells what must be one of the most classic cases in history. The fact that it's Biblical history just adds to the mystique.
It's the gentle twists of difference that bring this tale of Jacob and Esau to life and give it power. Yankle, the younger son, grows up resenting his bigger, stronger, marginally older brother. Parental favorites wound. Meanwhile the beloved mother appears as a foreigner, carried away from home and family (and riches) to live in a tent with her past safely hidden in a box. She doesn't wear a burka. Her shoes are painfully inappropriate. She doesn't belong, and neither does her son.
Author Uvi Poznansky adds a sense of immediacy to the tale as Yankle looks back on his past with a curious mix of modern and ancient perspectives. There's a pleasing humor as he muses over religions born from his home or complains of "no bus ticket to be found; and... a plane ticket was out of the question." There's all the delight of the familiar when Jacob's ladder appears, and all the joy of the new as hints and details sneak quietly into the tale. Simultaneously bringing past and present to life, the author gives this Bible story a powerful modern-day relevance behind its haunting antiquity, with every detail inspiring further thought and contemplation. A masterful retelling.
Disclosure: I was lucky enough to buy this when it was free.