Black Elephants: A Memoir

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U of Nebraska Press, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 222 pages
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An aspiring writer and reporter, Karol Nielsen went trekking through the Peruvian Andes at the height of the Shining Path terror, looking for adventure and a good story. She found Aviv, an Israeli traveler fresh out of his mandatory military service?a war-weary veteran of the first intifada?dreaming about peace. Black Elephants follows this idealistic pair as they explore the Americas, until Aviv, inexorably drawn to his homeland, asks Karol to come with him to Israel. There, the couple?s lovingly laid plans?for Aviv to attend university, and for Karol to work on a kibbutz, study Hebrew, and get to know his family?are suddenly tested by the eruption of the first Gulf War. Nielsen?s memoir paints a poignant and harrowing picture of love during wartime. Against a backdrop of bursting bombs and air-raid sirens, gas masks and sealed rooms, relationships are frayed, and romance becomes a distant memory. This story, so candidly and clearly told, powerfully illustrates the terror, loneliness, and absurdity of war and its invisible casualties.
 

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Contents

1 The New Zealand Sheep Farmer and the Recruit
1
2 Machu Picchu
11
3 Schlepper
25
4 Revital
35
5 Mexican Pyramids
40
6 Long Distance
43
7 Sabra
50
8 Give Peace a Chance
65
17 A Lonely Trip
118
18 Hebrew Lessons
120
19 Scandinavian Worker
126
20 Pampered American
133
21 Smoker
139
22 NinePointTwo Miles
142
23 Litmus Test
151
24 Better to Smile
162

9 Black Elephants
81
10 Not a Good Soldier
91
11 Nadav
95
12 Housebound
97
13 Cappuccino Cheesecake and Gas Masks
100
14 Sitting Ducks
104
15 The Promise
109
16 Lucie
115
25 Hermit Crab
171
26 Shalom Shalom
181
27 Collateral Damage
188
28 Homecoming
208
Acknowledgments
217
Selected Bibliography
221
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About the author (2011)

Karol Nielsen has contributed to "Smith Magazine's The Moment" anthology and other publications, including the "New York Times," "New York Newsday," "Jane's Intelligence Review," "Guernica," "Lumina," and "Epiphany"--before she became nonfiction editor of the magazine. Excerpts from this memoir were selected as Notable Essays in "The Best American Essays." Her poetry collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry. She teaches memoir writing at New York University.

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