Friday, November 28, 2008

Everything is Illuminated

Most people don't know this about me, but I have a pattern of behavior associated with finishing a book. I'm rarely conscious of it at the time, but immediately after I finish a book (and before I start a new one), I become incredibly annoying. My husband pointed this out to me a year or two ago and since then it's become a bit of a running joke in our house. Any time I'm annoying, Jeff will ask, "Did you by chance just finish a book?" At first, I was terribly offended by the question, but now I find it's almost a relief to know why I'm being so annoying. I've deduced that after reading a book, I go through some sort of weird withdrawal that results in needy behavior.

A few minutes ago, I finished brushing my teeth and got into bed where Jeff was already tucked in with a giant binder in his lap called Win Without Pitching. Though I love my husband deeply and dearly, he is, at his core, a massive dork and loves reading things called Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable (for serious, I just leaned over to look at a stack of books on his office floor and that was the one on top). Anyways, after brushing my teeth I ran, leaped into the air and dove head first into the bed, causing Jeff to highlight the wrong line in his reading material and the cat to make a pissed noise and leave the room. I then said something incredibly annoying like, "Do you love me?" And the second before he tore himself away from his stimulating reading to answer me I realized he was about to ask me if I'd just finished a book. And the thing is, I had! I just finished Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Jeff then suggested that maybe it would be helpful for me to post about it before going to bed (read: Please leave me alone with my nerd-alert binder and inflict your annoying on blogger instead of me). So this is what I'm doing.

I actually intended to buy Jonathan Safran Foer's other book - Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud (or is it Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?) but Half Price Books didn't have it. They did, however have this book (his first) and it sounded good, so I bought it. And I must say it was pretty amazing. From the back of the book, here is the description:

With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man - also named Jonathan Safran Foer - sets out to find the woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war; an amorous dog named Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior and the unforgettable Alex, a young Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past.
Sooo sad, smart, and also really quite funny at times (as Dolly Parton said in Steel Magnolias - laughter through tears is my favorite emotion). Jonathan has such a strong voice as a writer. Sometimes when I read books I think to myself, "Self, maybe you could write a book." But when I read this book, I thought, "Dude, you might be able to write a book, but in comparison to this book, yours' will be one that sits on the back of people's toilets as bathroom reading." There might have been a moment or two where things seem just a teensy bit pretentious, and I will confess to feeling very frustrated by the fact that we never get the answers to the questions Jonathan travelled to the Ukraine to answer, but then I would get to a chapter written by Alexander and all would be forgiven. The way he used bad English to say beautiful things was relentlessly awe inspiring. And I loved the passages from the Book of Recurrent Dreams, it was like reading the best kind of poetry.

It's late and I need to get to bed. I'm not sure this was the most informative review, but at least it kept me from annoying my husband, right?

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Oh my god, I totally do that as well! You know, I picked this book up at the library earlier this year all excited about reading it, but I just couldn't get into it. It's all about timing I think...