"Panther in the Basement," by Amos Oz. Harcourt Brace...

BOOK BRIEF

October 19, 1997|By Dan Cryer | Dan Cryer,Newsday

"Panther in the Basement," by Amos Oz. Harcourt Brace. 147pages. $21.

The time is the summer of 1947, less than a year before creation of the modern state of Israel. The place is a Jerusalem made tense by British occupation and Arab threat. It's an environment ripe for playing soldier.

With his pals, Proffy, the inquisitive 12-year-old narrator, has organized Freedom or Death, a three-boy imitation of the real-life underground of freedom fighters ready to give up their lives for Israeli independence. On the surface at least, it's innocent enough. But there's more to it than that. In Oz's fiction, implications and overtones are everything.

"The Panther in the Basement," is a charming evocation of a pivotal moment in an Israeli boyhood and a sly provocation of important questions about love and loyalty.

Pub Date: 10/19/97

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