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The acclaimed author of To the End of the Land now gives us a searing short novel about the life of a standup comic as revealed in the course of one evening's performance--comedy that will lean inexorably toward tragedy. In a little dive in a small Israeli city, Dov Greenstein, a comedian a bit past his prime, is doing a night of standup. In the audience is a district court justice, Avishai Lazar, whom Dov knew as a boy, along with a few others who remember Dov as the awkward, scrawny kid who walked on his hands to confound the neighborhood bullies. Gradually, teetering between hilarity and hysteria, Dov's patter becomes a kind of memoir, taking us back into the terrors of his childhood--his beautiful flower of a mother, a Holocaust survivor in need of constant monitoring; his punishing father, a striver who had little understanding of his creative son.