Understanding Shutter Speed kT love of Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseInow this review isn t of YA or a book that s in right now or a new release I still hope you guys read this and will consider picking it up though Because I want to live inside this bookBottom line I don t even The Mother I Carry: A Memoir of Healing from Emotional Abuse know what to say I so badly want you to read it But if you do and you don t like it even when you get to the beautiful beautiful last seventy five pages please don t tell meI want to write like Jonathan Safran Foer can write I watched the movie of this first and loved it It was basically a movie about cultural misunderstanding and how people can be cruel without reallynowing it It is a story about what happens when you put an American and someone born out of the Soviet era in the same room and try to make them explain to one another why the other one thinks the way they do In a word hilariousAfter reading the book I still like the movie but it seems obvious to me that the filmmakers missed the point entirely The book while still a hilarious exploration of an American immersed in post Soviet culture is so much deeper and weirderThe story is sort of about the author Jonathan Safran Foer He is an aspiring writer in his early 20s who travels to Ukraine to try to find the small Jewish village of Trachimbrod where his grandfather grew up and to find the woman who helped him escape the Nazis during the war He speaks no Ukrainian or Russian and his only maps of the area are 60 years old so he enlists the help of Alexander an Odessa native of about the same age his blind grandfather who acts as their driver if you have read any modern Russian literature you will understand not to uestion this Anthology of Articles on African Linguistics and Literature kind of thing and their deranged seeing eye bitch Sammy Davis Junior JuniorHalf of the story the half on which the movie is based is ostensibly written by Alex He write in English with an accent in that I assume it was written then rewritten by looking up every third word in the thesaurus and replacing it with the least appropriate synonym This section is a humorous touching narrative touching on the nature of friendship grief and regret among other things It is accessible and easy to understandThe other half which is entirely ignored by the movie is written by Jonathan and covers the history of the village from the day it got its name in 1791 until its destruction by the Nazis in 1941 following the exploits of his ancestors All of these sections have a very surreal uality They jump around in time different eras have glimpses into the past and future Everything that happens is completely bizarre and makes no sense It explores much difficult topics such as the nature of life love and art and is in general much philosophical and harder to get your head aroundThese sections are split by letters from Alexander to Jonathan commenting on Jonathan s sections and introducing his own next sectionThe weird thing about this book is that at least for me it gets frustrating to read the author s crazy attempts at philosophy He wanders around so much it seems like he is trying to write a little mini story for every emotion he s every experienced in his entire life Normally I would discard a book like this and say Well it s a young author s overeager first attempt and he tried to cover too much However there are so many parts in Alex s letters and narrative where these things are addressed once Jonathan says something like I want to be a writer but I m not good yet and Alex asks a lot of uestions like Why do you write like this and Why did you have the characters do that The incoherence of it all becomes a part of the greater logic of the novel which in turn provides an answer to the uestion Why did Jewish people stay in Poland and Ukraine when theynew the Nazis were coming This books answer I imagine would be Because nothing anyone did in the village s 150 year #history made sense why should they have done the sensible thing in 1941The #made sense why should they have done the sensible thing in 1941The is hilarious moving and disturbing among other things I can t help but be annoyed by its weird narrative and pointless philosophical musings but given that it bathes itself in its own strangeness it raises itself up and becomes a pretty awesome book Sorry but I didn t care for this at all If Mr Nobody wrote a book about himself as the main character and used some uninventive malapropisms to make discussions with a foreigner amusing
the book would be tossed But wait Foer went to Yale Unfortunately for me the book would be tossed But wait Foer went to Yale Unfortunately for me the of his writing shows me that nepotism will always beat out merit these days Sorry to be harsh but really I found the writing to be uite poor One of the nice things about being stoned is the added dimension of humor or profundity that otherwise inconseuential things can assume in our impression of them I remember once having my mind blown at the idea of language and how any two unrelated people having been raised in the same country and while having no connection at all to each other or there being any crossover among those who have taught or influenced them can meet each other one day and have a mutually intelligible conversation Fascinating right Well no not really but it sure as hell seems fascinating when you re highI feel as though the only way I could have read this book and found it as funny and profound as other readers found it is if I were completely and totally baked Everything Is Illuminated is essentially comprised of two narratives interwoven in a nonlinear arrangement The first is the account of a small Jewish settlement in the Ukraine which along with most of its Jewish settlement in the Ukraine which along with most of its inhabitants is wiped out by the invading Nazis in 1941 The writer of this section is a fictionalized version of Foer himself who is a direct descendant of some of these villagers The second narrative is that of a present day Ukrainian who recounts his experiences with Foer as they try to locate a mysterious woman who Foer believes helped his family escape that aforementioned invasion The Ukrainian whose name is Alex is hired by the fictional Foer as a translator in his endeavorsWhile Alex is the source of much of the book s comedy in his unintentional misuse of the English language the comedic value stemming from Jonathan Safran Foer Everything Is Illuminated Dutton 2002My what a clever novelIn any case that I imagine is what Jonathan Safran Foer ept saying as he was writing this And really much about it is clever The comparisons to A Clockwork Orange are completely unwarranted as Alex Foer s Ukrainian hero destroys the English language in a uite different way than does Burgess Alex A less po. Ukrainian translator who speaks in a sublimely butchered English Jonathan is led on a uixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past. .
Everything Is Illuminated is one of the most focused books I ve read It doesn t meander inappropriately and there s almost no excess Seriously this book s got less fat than Christian Bale in The Machinist It s either in full on comedy mode full on fanciful mode full on drama mode or some well balanced combination of the three Foer spent years editing the novel from his initial college thesis draft and it shows in a good way There s no lag and given some of the other books I was reading at the time eg The Recognitions this leanness and pacing were very welcome Moreover I don t think I ve ever been so off base with my preconceptions of a book I d somehow come to the conclusion that the controversy surrounding Foer was due to his pretentiousness and I was prepared for something in your face erudite clever showy and snarky since I d heard it was funny with his first effort This probably sounds idiotic for those of you familiar with Foer s work but that s what I was expecting The only uestion for me was would he be able to use his pretentiousness in a way that I d find enjoyable But as I got into the book what I found was one of the least pretentious literary novels I ve ever read And perhaps this puts the backlash that this guy s received into a whole new light although I don t want to get into that right now I d rather talk about what Foer does and does very well in Everything Is Illuminated First the humor This book is funny but not in the way I was expecting Foer s basically anti snarky And it s with his comedy style that he probably makes most of his enemies Instead of taking one of the modern American approaches to humor Foer utilizes the type of slapstick that ruled comedic cinema over 60 years ago and has or less disappeared from popular culture Bold bold move And one that I as a long time Abbot and Costello fan happen to love I ve watched each Abbot and Costello movie between 3 and 25 times and while I think their routines are brilliant I m also aware that the majority of Americans under 40 would likely yawn or cringe through many of them It s just a different style full of classic gags sans sarcasm or irony and one where any constraints of realism are given the boot while the routine is in progress just like in Everything Is Illuminated From Alex s ludicrously over the top English where Foer nabs Wallace s gag of incorrectly substituting difficult words for easy ones to the hero s inconvenient vegetarianism from the absurd dog behavior to the classic mistranslation humor reminiscent of the Peuod s encounter with the French Rose Bud Foer never wastes an opportunity to inject an episode of hilarity And to be honest he s not always successful But when it works and if you re susceptible to this style of humor you will laugh out loud I can t think of another book that blends this ind of extreme comedy with fanciful melancholy so well or even at all The initially hidden sadness builds in both the present day storyline and the 18th century through WWII storyline to a dramatic moment that didn t uite have the impact on me that Foer reaches for and that others have experienced I m not especially disappointed about this although I am stuck nowing that I didn t experience the emotional tidal wave that this book is capable of unleashing But you mightHere I must rely on an excerpt from David Foster Wallace s
essay on afka s humor there s noon Kafka s humor There s no word play or verbal stunt pilotry little in the way of wisecracks or mordant lampoon There is no body function humor in Kafka nor sexual entendre nor stylized attempts to rebel by offending convention No Pynchonian slapstick with banana peels or rapacious adenoids No Rothish satyriasis or Barthish metaparody or arch Woody Allenish vetching There are none of the ba bing ba bang reversals of modern sit coms nor are there precocious children or profane grandparents or cynically insurgent co workers Ok so there s some word play and maybe Pynchonian slapstick could describe a few scenes in Everything is Illuminated but since when was Thomas Pynchon s sense of humor considered part of contemporary US amusement Gimmicks as substance You are burned out So you suggested to your wife that the whole family spend the weekend in a beach resort You left the house in the morning drove the whole day and arrived at the resort few hours before the sunset You dropped your things donned your beach wear went barefoot and hurriedly went straight to the shore The sand is not sugar like but the pain is bearable The wind is a bit cold and it gives you slight chills You dip like but the pain is bearable The wind is a bit cold and it gives you slight chills You dip feet into the water It is still lukewarm since the sun is just about to set You start to swim Then you notice how beautiful the sun is The aleidoscope of colors yellow orange bright orange red reddish orange It s like God s canvas spluttered with beautiful colors You feel mesmerized Sunset is always breathtaking and you find yourself staring at it perplexed and speechless You are there standing you feel the small stones piercing your soles With wet hair your wet clothes on the water drips to your skin With the afternoon sea breeze softly blowing you feel cold You feel the discomfort but you don t care You go on standing You go on staring You want to see the finality of the sunset Slowly slowly Down Down Until it s gone DarknessBut you remain standing You want to see what comes next The shore is part of the bay and you can see lights starting to flicker from the nearby island The fishermen light up the gas lamps on the boats You look up at the sky The crescent shaped moon starts to appear over at the horizon And the countless stars twinkle as if they are smiling at you The small insects start to swarm and bite you swat them with your hands You feel the stones poking your skin You start to shiver from cold But you feel happy as you have just witness an unspeakable beauty Something that we tend to ignore as we rush through our daily lives A celebration of life A miracle You feel utterly happy Blissful Joyous This is exactly how I felt reading Jonathan Safran Foer s debut novel Everything is IlluminatedAmazing Sometimes reading makes me so angryDammitI m a freaking mess I realize this and I accept itUghWhy Jonathan Safran Foer Why Why do you do this to me And why the hell are you so young I now that some call you gimmicky and think that you are just a phosphoresce in the pannikin yes I too have access to Thesauruscom but I justjust spleen them They can read their Anderson and their Coetzee and leave us dreamers alone I am Team Foer others be damned 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. ,
Still wish you weren t so freaking young thoughThe story is fragmented told through letters and hodgepodges of writings that might or might not be parts of a novel There is the story about the people of Trachimbrod which might be Trochenbrod a city in western Ukraine that was decimated during WWII by a Nazi Invasion There is the story of Alex and Jonathan and their journey to find out Who is Augustine And to thank her for saving Jonathan s lineage There is the story of Grandfather and Herschel copious amounts of tears during that one And then there are the stories within the stories The story of Brod Jonathan s great great great great great grandmother and her struggle with loving the idea of love and her 613 sadnesses Mirror Sadness Sadness of not nowing if your body is normal Beauty Sadness Sadness of Hands Sadness of An Alien Heat knowing that your body is normal Kissing Sadness Sadness of wanting sadness Sadness of feeling the need to create beautiful things What if Sadness Sadness Secret Sadness The story of the would be Augustine and her house with its many labeled boxes SilverPerfumePinwheels WatchesWinter Darkness Pillowcases PoetryNailsPisces Dust MenorahsInksKeys Death of a Firstborn In Case I loved them all I love the awakenings and the not truths I love the humor and the tragedies and the friendships I am giddy and heavy hearted I am in love with the idea What I loved most what I clung to after I finished the book was this Jews have Six SensesTouch taste sight smell hearingmemory While Gentiles experience and process the world through the traditional senses and see memory only as a second order means of interpreting events for Jews memory is no less primary than the prick of a pin or its silver glimmer or the taste of the blood it pulls from the finger The Jew is pricked by a pin and remembers other pins It is only by tracing the pinprick back to other pinpricks when his mother tried to fix his sleeve while his arm was still in it when his grandfather s fingers fell from stroking his great grandfather s damp forehead when Abraham tested thenife point to be sure Isaac would feel no pain that the Jew is able to The Alchemy of Culture: Intoxicants in Society know why it hurts When a Jew encounters a pin he asks What does it remember like The idea of memory as a sense Okay I ve admitted it before and will again and again I m a shiksa a French CanadianGermanNH bred Shiksa I can t fathom the horrors of having the Holocaust in my past I won t even begin to pretend to imagine the ramifications But I can appreciate this idea What does it remember like Aren t we all tied to the past Aren t all of our future actions predetermined by a memory Everything is the way it is because everything was the way it was So much for Free Will At one point Alex begs Jonathan when writing their story I beseech you to forgive us and to make us better than we are Make us good We have that power in writing To take away the bad and to recreate We usually choose not to It has to be grittyfairytales are for the youngwe need to set the story straight we need to exorcise our demonsand so on Make us good God that just aboutilled meAnd this is why I will always defend Foer His ability to bring me to this awareness and to break my heart in 300 pages or less Funny In a Tragic WayWhat would the English of a bright Ukrainian who had learnt it largely from local pop culture and a thesaurus sound like Hilarious bright Ukrainian who had learnt it largely from local pop culture and a thesaurus sound like Hilarious Especially in the telling of a tale which has both been told so many times and can never be told adeuately the Holocaust There are two protagonists the author a young Jewish man off to find his roots in a now famous but obliterated shtetl near the PolishUkrainian border and a young ambitious lad from a disfunctional family in Odessa who acts as guide and subseuent interlocutor The author writes history of a post modernist sort the lad writes of the trip and comments on the author s text It is these latter comments that are most compelling because they reveal both the essential irrelevance of the destruction of European Jewry to the lives of those who have inherited the unexpurgated guilt of the massacres and the way in which that guilt remains an essential but unspoken feature of life Without the comedic language to make this contradictory point the book would likely fall flat With that language and it s gradual normalisation during the course of the tale the book becomes a story of revelation when it s 120 am and you re thinking about your favorite book of the year so far again and you realize you never posted your review and you just havetohavetohaveto let everyone Rough Rider: BWWM Interracial MC Biker Alpha Male Romance know how much you loved itHo ly shithttpsemmareadstoomuchwordpresscoThis book was incredible Truly I ve taken the last hour or two to justind of continue with my life and try to absorb that experience Because even though I ve been reading this book for almost three weeks bananas long for me it still feels like one cohesive experienceI just want to uote this book to you if that s okay Just
for a hot sec There is no love only the end of love Between a grandfather anda hot sec There is no love only the end of love Between a grandfather and grandson You have ghostsOf course I have ghostsWhat are your ghosts likeThey are on the inside of the lids of my eyesThis is also where my ghosts resideYou have ghostsOf course I have ghostsBut you are a childI am not a childBut you have not nown loveThese are my ghosts The spaces amid love Maybe uoting it wasn t a good idea because I want to give swaths of it to you all I ll end up trying to trick you into reading by including ever lengthening passagesThese characters may very well stay with me for the rest of my life Lovely Alex with his love for his brother and his grandiose lies and his dashed dreams and his wonderfully terrible English Did you manufacture any Zs The metafiction how much is real Jonathan Safran Foer dedicated to his notebook staunch vegetarian Brod and her 613 sadnesses her love for everyone and everything and no one and nothing The Gypsy girl whose heart broke for Safran whom she did not love and his books organized by the colors of their spines The shtetl of Trachimbrod its Trachimday and the Time of Dyed Hands and surname initialed residents Bitzl Bitzl R was my favoriteThis book sometimes gave me a feeling like my heart was swelling up My hand twitched for a pencil or a Post It while I read these lovely words but I was always too absorbed and soon forgot what I was trying to remember to do That feeling is why I readThis was slow to start and I almost god forbid DNFed it Can you imagine Even two thirds in I contemplated three stars sadly reminiscing on my vas. 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. ,