Even after reading this new
Worldhum story twice, I’m still unsure how or why writer Porter Shreve
found himself working on a kibbutz in Israel. Baptized in the Episcopal Church and a devout undevoted, he seems to have
been there for the sheer excitement (if that’s the right word, and I’m not sure it is) of it. But there he was, living
and enjoying life for a brief while in the Israeli desert. Sure, he had worries about bombers and assassinations. Who
wouldn’t? If you keep up on the news it seems as if bombs go off around you every day in Israel. I was there for my
honeymoon six years ago, back when things weren’t nearly as dangerous as they are now, and even then I was always
searching faces on the bus, wondering whether the guy with the backpack buying baklava was about to disintegrate into
pink mist, taking all of us with him.
But Shreve weathers the danger in Israel. It is when he heads into Egypt that he finds trouble. And oddly, it wasn’t
even the religio-political kind of danger. His bus crashed. His driver fell asleep at the wheel.
Shreve’s narrative here of the story of how he survived the crash and made it back alive to write the tale is riveting
and thoughtful, and illustrates nicely how travel and luck (good and bad) can sometimes offer up the most random, but