Will iconic images recorded in the grooves of an ancient vase unite the Holy Land or rip it further apart?

THE VASE

A novel by Mark M. DeRobertis

Muhsin Muhabi is a Palestinian potter, descended from a long line of potters. His business is run from the same shop owned by his ancestors since the day his forebears moved to Nazareth. The region's conflict saw the death of his oldest son, and rogue terrorists are in the process of recruiting his youngest in their plot to assassinate the Pope and Israeli prime minister.

Professor Hiram Weiss is an art historian at Nazareth’s Bethel University. He is also a Shin Bet operative on special assignment. With the help of fellow agent, Captain Benny Mathias, he plans to destroy the gang responsible for the death of his wife and only child. He puts a bomb in the ancient vase he takes on loan from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.

Mary Levin, the charming assistant to the director of Shin Bet, has lost a husband and most of her extended family to recurring wars and never-ending terrorism. She dedicates her life to the preservation of Israel, but to whom will she dedicate her heart - the brilliant professor from Bethel University - or the gallant captain who now leads Kidon?

Harvey Holmes, the Sherlock of Haunted Houses, is a Hollywood TV host whose reality show just flopped. When a Lebanese restaurant owner requests his ghost-hunting services, he believes the opportunity will resurrect his career. All he has to do is exorcise the ghosts that are haunting the restaurant. It happens to be located right across the street from Muhsin’s Pottery Shop.



Friday, August 15, 2014

Villains as Protagonists--Nothing New

After posting yesterday about what I considered a new trend--villains as the protagonists, I remembered A Clockwork Orange. In that story, an English teen gangbanger played by a young Malcolm McDowell was the protagonist. He was a rapist, a murderer, a vile person, and all things despicable. But there he was--the protagonist. Sure, he was given treatment to "cure" him of those behaviors. Meaning whenever he thought about committing a violent act or crime, he would become physically sick. And when he was released back into the world, he was no longer able to cope.

So were we supposed to feel sorry for him then? Not really. I don't think anyone did. Not me. But maybe that's the point of having a villain as the protagonist. Meaning when they get what's coming to them in the end, you don't feel sorry for them.

Another example is the movie Scarface. In Scarface, a much younger Al Pacino was the protagonist. And he was yet another drug dealer. Another murderer. Another despicable person. So in the end, when he was finally killed by rival gangbangers, no one felt sorry for him.

Is that a preferable thing? Yesterday I mentioned the protagonist Maximus from the movie Gladiator. He was a great protagonist, a good person throughout the movie. I mean here we had a great hero who led people, was loved by people, and battled the bad guys. You wanted this guy to be successful. You rooted for him to win. And when he died in the end, you were sad for him. I was, anyway. I didn't want to see him die. I thought that the movie's ending sucked for him to die.

But I didn't feel sad when Al Pacino in Scarface died in the end. He had it coming to him. He deserved to die. And I've concluded that's the point. With a villain as the protagonist, you're okay with seeing him or her die. Like Bonnie and Clyde. Come movie's end--time to die.

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