To dissolve into a mental process: Names

By Yotam Schwimmer, literary critic,Ynet.

Or Ernst's book moves between changing times and rhythms, and tells the story of a heroine whose relationships in her life melt into catastrophe. And she is not satisfied with breaking the bourgeois conventions, but takes them one step further: into degeneration.

Or Ernst's new book, "Melting", reunites us with her juicy and moving prose, which she used in her previous book, "Restlessness", which, like the current book, was published by "Carmel". This is a prose whose juiciness comes from the delightful maturity of the images, the descriptions that pour out with intense emotion, the elegant choice of words and the surprising linguistic combinations.

These, if I may borrow the name of the novel, melt while reading them, and coalesce together into a delightful juiciness, which makes the text thick, demanding and rich.

In "Melting" Ernst expresses the story of Sharon, a married woman who can no longer bear her degenerate routine. Ernst does not leave her heroine in the familiar bourgeois boredom of many literary texts of recent years, but goes one step further and goes to the extreme towards degeneration, paralysis, catastrophe.

This is a novel that moves between changing times and rhythms, and does not linearly outline the disintegration of marital, family and personal relationships, but rather offers a flexible expression of the mental process. 

Disintegration is described as a being that has melted. Her being loses its volume, its texture, everything that allows the heroine to act according to society's set of rules. And the looming catastrophe is a consequence of that largely inevitable meltdown.

What happens when a person melts? When the things that held them melt away too, leaving them exposed and vulnerable? Is it precisely in this place that real redemption lies? And what does all this mean for a woman, for a wife, for a mother? 

Ernst joins other writers and poets who describe this situation, and she does so in her own voice, which provides quite a few moments of wonder at the beautiful text, which must be admitted because sometimes the impression of its aesthetics overshadows delving into the content.But this does not mean that the content itself is inferior compared to its literary design. On the contrary, it has power and interest and a polished drama that ranges from subtlety to brutality, and Ernst manages to express all of these with great talent.

Dissatisfaction, and the feeling of resentment and enmity accompany the mental journey that the couple goes through, and especially Sharon. More on their private story,stories of other characters through whom Ernst expresses alternative existences that even if there is something attractive, magnetizing, exciting, they are not necessarily marked as the desired, idyllic alternative.

Ernst is interested in the mental process that the heroine goes through and not in presenting sealed determinations of right and wrong, prohibited and permitted. It is the movement of the soul, of thought, that is at the center of the story, and it is the one through which the story of the couple is also conveyed. Therefore, the interruptions and irregular transitions are very appropriate to the content, the philosophical concept of the novel and the aesthetics of the text.

In the back of the book, the editor Amos Adelheit notes that in the novel Ernst presents this "up-to-date expression of the 'living dead' theme according to the best tradition of existential prose". You can definitely see the influences of writers like Jean-Paul Sartre in the book, especially in the way Ernst expresses the great influence of the psychic revelation on the heroine's life, on her body and the characterization of the dead existence in a living body.

Accordingly, many descriptions are very physical, tangible as well as macabre and depressing. The load of images could have become clichéd and exaggerated, but it actually serves in most cases the emotional compression and the strong connections between existence and the desire to decipher it through the familiar and the casual. However, under Ernst's hand these become new and original, as for example:

"And if he complimented her on something trivial, she hung her eyes on him like gray tops on a clothesline – damp and trembling".

“Nemes" is an interesting literary work due to the strong content that is conveyed in poetry that does not flow into sentimentality and kitsch. Ernst tells a story with thought-provoking and passionate linguistic means, while the text provides pleasantness and pleasure along with a constant bubble of worries and fears. These create a strong and intense reading experience in a short, tight and convincing novel.

"Names” (“Melting”) by Or Ernst, Emda series, Carmel Jerusalem publishing house, 187 pages.