Tuesday, July 11, 2017

An Unexpected, and Delightful Surprise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      I have admired Jonathan Safran Foer, since he burst onto the scene with "Everything Is Illuminated," which I actually read twice.  It was an impressive debut; even more so, on a second reading, which I encourage for everyone.  His next book, "Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close," while widely anticipated was, for me, at least, a big let down.   It was touching, but just too gimmicky, and all throughout it, I kept asking, "Jonathan when are you going to write THE book?"

                                       Well, dears, he has.  When I picked up the voluminous (579 pgs.) of "Here I Am, coming off of 'Extremely,' I was like Sisyphus looking at anther rock haul up the mountain. This continued, as I launched into it.  But somewhere, long before page 100, something clicked, and I knew I was off on a hilarious, exploratory investigation, into a disastrous marriage, Jewish traditions,  the state, both geographic and cultural of Israel, and other facets of our contemporary society.  Jonathan Safran Foer has finally written the book I always knew him capable of writing.

                                         It takes a lot for me to laugh outright at things on the printed page, but this book does that.  It is not all intellectual pomposity or pretension; it is none of those things at all.  It reads like a charm, and I could not tear myself away from the ups and downs of the Bloch family.  Is this a Jewish riff on "Anna Karenina?"  In the broadest sense of the word, yes.  But it is much more--beyond Roth, beyond Bellow, though their influences prevail.  Mr. Safran Foer, always talented, here comes into his own.

                                        Which leaves me in a quandary.  If this book is go good--and it is--how can his next one be any better?  What will he do, beyond this?  It may be too early for Safran Foer to ask these questions, basking, as he must be, in the success of this work, but readers and admirers of his cannot help, but be naturally curious.

                                           Oh, I have to say this.  Some sage critic  compared this novel to "Middlemarch."  Yes, George Eliot's "Middlemarch."  I mean, are you kidding?    The two have as much connection with one another as white toast has to Pop Tarts.  I doubt whether the author of this statement has even read "Middlemarch."  I have read it three times.  Why bother comparing Safran Foer's book to anything, as it stands so well, on its own?

                                            I had hitherto heard only comments like "OK," from my sources about this novel.  What a pleasure to discover it is much more than that!

                                              Keep writing, Jonathan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Victoria Adams said...

How about that, I was JUST thinking of him. You probably know this but when he was a little boy he was seriously injured, and his best friend almost killed, making sparklers at a summer camp. It affected him profoundly.
I'm going to try to find that story and read it again. Heartbreaking.
Once again I marvel at the challenges people face, and overcome.
But it was nerve wracking seeing a clip of one of my grandsons with sparklers on July 4th.
He seemed afraid of them. And that was fine with me.

The Raving Queen said...


No, I did not know about this incident.
Did he ever write about it? If so, I would
love to read it.

Your comment made me think of Ronnee Blakely,
who was so wonderful in Altman's "Nashville" in 1975.
Her Oscar nominated performance as singer Barbara Jean
centered that movie. In the film, it is mentioned the
character has gone through a series of skin grafts at
the Baltimore Burn center for an accident similar to
the one you described happened to Foer. The reference
in the film "Nashville" is directly from Blakley's own
experience; her dress caught on fire by a July 4th
sparkler when she was a little girl.

Victoria Adams said...

He did write about it. Google "once upon a life/js foer/books/the guardian"

The Raving Queen said...

Thanks for the info, Victoria.
I will read it.