Welcome to another edition of
The Saturday Showcase
The Music of Us
Publisher: Uvi Poznansky (November 11, 2015)
Publication Date: November 11, 2015
In 1970, Lenny can no longer deny that his wife is undergoing a profound change. Despite her relatively young age, her mind succumbs to forgetfulness. Now, he goes as far back as the moment he met Natasha, when he was a soldier and she—a star, brilliant yet illusive. Natasha was a riddle to him then, and to this day, with all the changes she has gone through, she still is.
“Digging into the past, mining its moments, trying to piece them together this way and that, dusting off each memory of Natasha, of how we were, the highs and lows of the music of us, to find out where the problem may have started?”
To their son, Ben, that may seem like an exercise in futility. For Lenny, it is a necessary process of discovery, one that is as tormenting as it is delightful. He often wonders: can we ever understand, truly understand each other—soldier and musician, man and woman, one heart and another? Will we ever again dance together to the same beat? Is there a point where we may still touch?
Uvi Poznansky is a California-based author, poet and artist. Her writing and her art are tightly coupled. “I paint with my pen,” she says, “and write with my paintbrush.”
She earned her B. A. in Architecture and Town Planning from the Technion in Haifa, Israel. During her studies and in the years immediately following her graduation, she practiced with an innovative Architectural firm, taking part in the design of a large-scale project, Home for the Soldier.
At the age of 25 Uvi moved to Troy, N.Y. with her husband and two children. Before long, she received a Fellowship grant and a Teaching Assistantship from the Architecture department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she guided teams in a variety of design projects; and where she earned her M.A. in Architecture. Then, taking a sharp turn in her education, she earned her M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan.
During the years she spent in advancing her career—first as an architect, and later as a software engineer, software team leader, software manager and a software consultant (with an emphasis on user interface for medical instruments devices)—she wrote and painted constantly. In addition, she taught art appreciation classes.
Her versatile body of work can be seen on her website, which includes poems, short stories, bronze and ceramic sculptures, paper engineering projects, oil and watercolor paintings, charcoal, pen and pencil drawings, and mixed media.
In addition, she posts her thoughts about the creative process on her blog, and engages readers and writers in conversation on her Goodreads Q&A group.
Uvi published a poetry book in collaboration with her father, Zeev Kachel. Later she published two children’s books, Jess and Wiggle and Now I Am Paper, which she illustrated, and for which she created animations. You can find these animations on her Goodreads author page.
Apart from Love combines two threads—My Own Voice and The White Piano—woven together (along with two new chapters) around the same events in 1980, when Ben returns to meet his father, Lenny, and his new wife, Anita. It is then that he discovers a family secret. The Music of Us goes back a generation to 1941, when Lenny, a young marine, fell in love with Natasha, a pianist. These volumes in Still Life with Memories offer an intimate peek into the life of a family dealing with losing a member to early-onset Alzheimer’s. Overwhelmed by passion, guilt, and blame, they find their way to forgiveness.
Rise to Power, A Peek at Bathsheba, and The Edge of Revolt are volume I, II, and III of The David Chronicles, telling the story of David as you have never heard it before: from the king himself, telling the unofficial version, the one he never allowed his court scribes to recount. In his mind, history is written to praise the victorious—but at the last stretch of his illustrious life, he feels an irresistible urge to tell the truth.
A Favorite Son, her novella, is a new-age twist on an old yarn. It is inspired by the biblical story of Jacob and his mother Rebecca, plotting together against the elderly father Isaac, who is lying on his deathbed. This is no old fairy tale. Its power is here and now, in each one of us.
Twisted is a unique collection of tales. In it, the author brings together diverse tales, laden with shades of mystery. Here, you will come into a dark, strange world, a hyper-reality where nearly everything is firmly rooted in the familiar—except for some quirky detail that twists the yarn, and takes it for a spin in an unexpected direction.
Home, her deeply moving poetry book in tribute of her father, includes her poetry and prose, as well as translated poems from the pen of her father, the poet and author Zeev Kachel.
Most of these books are available in all three editions: ebook, audio, and print.
The Music of Us (Vol. III of Still Live with Memories)
How did you come up with the title for your book, The Music of Us?
The name comes from the thoughts of the main character, Lenny, as he contemplates his entire life, from the moment he fell in love with Natasha, who now succumbs to forgetfulness:
There is only one thing more difficult than talking to Ben, and that is writing to him. Amazingly, having to conceal what his mother is going through makes every word—even on subjects unrelated to her—that much harder. I find myself oppressed by my own self-imposed discipline, the discipline of silence.
And what can I tell him, really? That I keep digging into the past, mining its moments, trying to piece them together this way and that, dusting off each memory of Natasha, of how we were, the highs and lows of the music of us, to find out where the problem may have started?
To him, that may seem like an exercise in futility. For me, it is a necessary process of discovery, one that is as tormenting as it is delightful. If the dissonance in our life would fade away, so will the harmony.
How did you come up with the title for your series, Still Life with Memories?
This expression captures the longing we have for the past, which is symbolized by cherished objects. In The Music of Us, this expression is used twice, in two conversations between Natasha and Lenny. The first conversation is in 1942, when she longs for the home she lost and the vase of flowers that reminds her of the anniversary gift her Pa gave her Ma. And the second conversation, this time in 1970, is a reprise, which takes on a bitter sweet meaning, because at this time she is about to lose her memory, and therefore is in danger of losing who she is.
I put my pants on, go to the kitchen, fill a small pot with water and bring it to a boil for the eggs. Meanwhile I squeeze grapefruit juice into two glasses and wait for the two slices of bread to pop out of the toaster. I set two plates on the table, one each side of the crystal vase. It is the same vase her Pa bought for her Mama to mark their anniversary a generation ago.
I had been too drained to think about it until last night, when on a whim I bought bouquet of fresh flowers in lovely hues of white, pink, and purple. Why did I do it? Perhaps for old times’ sake. By now I have stopped hoping to surprise my wife with such frivolities, because she pays little attention, lately, to the things I do. So for no one in particular I stand over the thing, rearranging the orchids, spray roses, and Asiatic lilies as best I can, to create an overall shape of a dome.
And then—then, in a blink—I find myself startled by a footfall behind me. A heartbeat later I hear her voice, saying, “Lenny?”
I turn around to meet her eyes. My God, this morning they are not only lucid but also shining with joy.
In a gruff voice, choked, suddenly, with tears, I ask her, “What is it, dear?”
And she says, “Don’t forget.”
“I love you.”
Spreading my arms open I stand there, speechless for a moment. Without a word she steps into them. We snuggle, my chin over her head. She presses it to my bare chest. I comb through her hair with my fingers. And once again, we are one.
Then she points at the vase.
“For you,” I say. “Looks like some old painting, doesn’t it?”
“Still life,” she whispers. “With memories.”
Then Natasha lifts her eyes, hanging them on my lips as if to demand something of me, something that has been on her mind for quite a while. Somehow I can guess it. She is anticipating an answer, which I cannot give.
Instead I kiss her. She embraces me but her eyes are troubled, and the question remains.
“Without the memories,” she asks, “is it still life?”
Do you have any input in the Cover design of your novel?
I do! I create my own covers, based on my art.
My book, A Peek at Bathsheba, includes a sighting of Bathsheba at the mouth of a cave, located just above the Kidron valley, near Jerusalem. The setting immediately brought to my mind A Woman Bathing in a Stream, painted in 1655 by Rembrandt, immediately after he painted Bathsheba at Her Bath.
During the history of art, most artists portrayed Bathsheba as a fleshy, mature woman. They often placed her in a lush outdoor scenery, such as a royal garden, with flowing water or with a fountain. Spotting a forbidden woman in a setting reminiscent of the Garden of Eden is a tempting fantasy, and quite a departure from the biblical account, that states she was bathing on her roof. Artists go after their own heart—and so, indeed, do writers—to suggest the emotional essence of the story.
Rembrandt worked mostly with a grays, browns, and blacks, setting objects back by plunging them into this dark tone, and bringing them forward by shining a bright light directly upon them, creating stark contrasts. The resulting image is sculptural in nature, and strikingly dramatic.
Clearly, the composition of my watercolor painting is inspired by his admirable art, shares a similar spirit of intimacy, and maintains a loving respect for the model. Here is my approach, my homage to it, which illuminates the new vision I use for the story.
I strive to maintain a sculptural feel for Bathsheba, but take the freedom to play with a splash of colors, so as to draw contrasts between cool and warm hues. I create a variety of textures, using a loose, spontaneous brushstroke. This I achieve by applying puddles of pigments over Yupo paper, which (unlike traditional watercolor paper) is non-absorbent. I let these puddles drip in some places, and in other places, I lift and shape them into careful designs, using various tools.
The font selected for the title depicts a regal, dynamically slanted, and rather grandiose handwriting style, just the way I imagine David’s penmanship in his private diary.
By contrast to the title, the font selected for the name of the trilogy—The David Chronicles—is a more formal one, and it is presented in capitals. This adheres to the font scheme for the cover of the first volume, Rise to Power.
At the top, the letters are bathed in golden light, which fades gradually towards the bottom. Down there, they are soaked in a blood red color, as befits this dramatic affair of love and war.
A Peek at Bathsheba is one volume out of a trilogy. Therefore I am designing the spines of all three covers to have a matching feel in terms of the image and font scheme. So when you place them on your bookshelf, one spine next to the other, all three volumes will visually belong together. Together they will grace the look of your library.
Are there any other genres you’ve written?
I write in many genres. What I do is just the opposite of branding, perhaps because I find ways to surprise myself. So my books cannot easily be classified in the narrow confines of a particular genre, because life as we know it–and my art, which mirrors it– constantly changes from one genre to the next. One moment is is humorous; the next, it is erotic; then, it might be a tragedy.
Consider my books: Rise to Power (historical fiction), A Peek at Bathsheba (historical romance) A Favorite Son (biblical fiction), Apart from Love (literary fiction), Twisted (dark fantasy), Home (poetry) or Jess and Wiggle and Now I Am Paper (children’s books), they all come from the same pen. I love writing both poetry and prose. They look different on the page: the white space surrounding the letters, in my mind, is like the surface of an ocean. In poetry, it covers nearly all the page, allowing only the a few words to erupt over the surface, because a poem in essence is a burst of emotion. As you read it, you cannot see under the white surface–there is so much hidden underneath! It is an island. In prose, on the other hand, the writer dives into the undercurrents and explores the landscape sunk beneath the surface, so there are many connections being created and being understood by the reader.
My writing has often been called ‘lyrical’ by many of my reviewers on Goodreads and Amazon, perhaps because I treat each word with great care, and give thought to every sentence, every phrase, every comma. Similar to the rhythm and rhymes in poetry, I listen to the rhythms of our speech, so the characters in my prose will talk in the flow that reflects their feelings. So all in all, I use parallel techniques for both my poetry and prose.
I bring everything I have experienced, everything I have learned into my work. My art and my writing are two sides of the same coin, which you can easily realize when you see the cover images of my books, and when you read them.
The process of creativity is, for me, the same. It is a juxtaposition of ideas, a spark that creates an inspiration.