This collection includes The Death of Lysanda, Ants and A Narrow Stair. For the first two novellas, first published separately, see separate entries.
A Narrow Stair
Yeruham has withdrawn from life. He edits and proof-reads historical material from World War II, and his routine includes laundry on Monday, cinema on Tuesday and love-making on Friday. He and his wife, Miri, maintain strict order, but their system is not foolproof. A core of disquiet remains, the seed of an upheaval that "grips one suddenly in the middle of a nap, the card game, meals." Destruction is personified by the cripple, Sabi, who moves into the building. His avowed purpose is to weaken the staircase, which will kill their neighbor, Mrs. Shurtz. Miri and Yeruham wait with horror and fascination for Mrs Schurtz to break her neck. When Sabi is not chiselling away at the fateful step, he seduces Miri. Her relationship with Sabi is a distortion of love and tenderness. She humiliates her husband and destroys the basis of their life.
Orpaz is very good indeed at revealing the menace that lurks beneath methodical, mechanical bourgeois smugness....He holds his reader's attention by building up the tension gradually and rhythmically, and giving credence to his tale.