13 December 2008

My Fave Israeli Lives in Wisconsin


My fave Israeli is not--as you might expect--literary wunderkind Etgar Keret, whom I met in Iowa (!) and who has the same birthday as mine. Neither is it Eytan Fox, whose birthday is the day after mine, who has directed Yossi and Jagger, Walk On Water, and The Bubble.

Nope, my fave Israeli, pictured above, is Gil Roth, one of my oldest friends from Madison. I think of Gil first of all as a writer. That's what he's passionate about. That's what we end up talking about--the books we've read...or want to write. A few years ago we even assayed a treatment for a film. Last week when I saw him Gil checked out Lover Of Unreason, the biography of Ted Hughes paramour Assia Wevill--which I had been recommending for ever so long.

Fluent in Hebrew, English, Italian, and Arabic, Gil grew up most of his life in Israel. He attended high school in Madison--his father is an Emeritus Professor at the university--and has been living in the U.S. since. (He lived in New York around the same time I did.) All of this makes Gil sound very much the sophisticate, which he is.

Gil is not only a devastatingly talented, charming, and good-looking devil, he is also a very good friend. During the debacle in which I exhibited the most singularly horrifying judgement of my romantic career, he did not breathe "I told you so," once--even though he so had. Gil has also helped me move--unambiguously the mark of a true friend. Also, there have been really fun times with him--going to parties, bars, the movies, a cafe--that were for all the world like the smartest indie sitcom you could ever imagine.

Sometimes Gil astounds me with his observations about human nature and relationships. He is a very generous person, so people want to tell him their stories. During the longest and best conversations I've had with him, I've realized I'm not alone--there are other people out there with problems like mine. And you could go through life thinking everything was going perfectly for everybody else. So, my admittedly sappy-sounding hope is to help Gil be the best and truest-to-himself person he can be.

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