Excerpt from The Orchard by David Hopen , plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Orchard

by David Hopen

The Orchard by David   Hopen X
The Orchard by David   Hopen
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  • Published:
    Nov 2020, 480 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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Excerpt
The Orchard

Epigraph

Our Rabbis have taught, four entered into The Orchard. They were Ben Azai, Ben Zoma, Aher, and Rabbi Akiba. Ben Azai gazed and died. Of him it is written, "Precious in the eyes of HaShem is the death of his pious ones." Ben Zoma gazed, and went insane. Of him, it is written, "Have you found honey, eat your share lest you become full, and vomit it up." Aher became an apostate. Rabbi Akiba entered, and exited in peace.

—Hagigah 14b

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Keats, "Ode to a Nightingale"

Prologue

"Is tragedy dead?"

This is what I asked Mrs. Hartman at the end of it all, when I was still obsessed with every fatal flaw but my own.

She didn't ask why I needed to know. Instead she asked me to define tragedy for her. I told her this was impossible: tragedy was a subphilosophy, something to be felt, not defined.

She shook her head. "Majestic sadness," she told me. "That's tragedy."

I thought about that night, standing side by side with Evan and Amir in those waning moments before the policemen, the fire trucks, the body count. I thought about the look on Evan's soot-washed face. "I wonder if Noah is seeing this," he had said, his voice soft, sad. After everything that had happened our senior year, it was the way he said this that made me cry. If that was not majestic sadness, I decided, nothing was.

"Well, Mr. Eden?" She blinked at me. "Did it die with the Greeks?"

"No," I said. "I suppose not."

  • 1

Excerpted from The Orchard by David Hopen . Copyright © 2020 by David Hopen . Excerpted by permission of Ecco. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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