The Retrospective

In The Retrospective, A.B. Yehoshua uses an aging Israeli film director, Yair Moses, as a fictional stand-in for himself and his writing (A Woman in Jerusalem, Mr. Mani et al.). Moses is invited to Spain for a retrospective of his films. He and his muse, Ruth, who is frequently in his films, agree to attend. The movies shown, many of them early efforts, are reminiscent of stories Yehoshua has written.

Seeing his early films causes Moses to ponder his youthful choices. Were they his, or were they strongly influenced by Shaul Trigano, his scriptwriter, or the cameraman, Toledano?

In their hotel room, Moses sees a picture, entitled Caritas Romana, that shows a young woman breastfeeding her father. He is instantly reminded of the rift between himself and Trigano, which ended their collaboration. Trigano wanted Ruth, playing a young woman who has just given her child up for adoption, to encounter a beggar on the street and breastfeed him. Ruth refused to play the scene, Moses supported her decision and Trigano quit.

Now, Moses recognizes the richness of what Trigano was trying in the scene--with its erotic overtones, including the taboo of father-daughter sexuality. Returning to Israel, he seeks out Trigano in the hope of reconciliation.

Trigano is hostile and insulting, wanting nothing to do with Moses. Finally, he agrees to an uneasy truce, but first Moses must pay the price Trigano exacts. What follows is an exploration of memory, morality, friendship and creativity that brings Yair Moses to a fuller understanding of himself and his motivations--in sum, a retrospective not just of his work, but also his life. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

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