Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 56

Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer... defies description. How's that for a reviewer's copout? Seriously, EII is like nothing I've ever read. It's fiction, yes, and multiple stories are told at once by multiple narrators, and some parts are set in the present and some set in the past. But it's more than the sum of its parts. The language is rich and complex, the characters are compelling and fully realized, the action is devastating and really real. It's a page turner, for about the last fifty pages, and the first 250ish pages just lead up to that - lots and lots of exposition, not such a bad thing when you realize what it was all building up to. My jaw dropped once or twice while I was reading those last 50 pages, just in horror at what was taking place and being revealed (illuminated, you might say).


But the book is a little pretentious. As brilliant as it, it knows it - at least, you get the feeling that Foer knows how good he is, how masterful at language and bending it to his will, shaping this work so that it's like nothing else out there. And that's OK, I guess, but I wanted to come away from EII thinking, Wow, that was incredible, and instead I came away thinking, Wow, that would have been incredible if it hadn't been just a little TOO "incredible."

Everything is Illuminated - A-

1 comment:

Figgylicious said...

I loved most of this book. The parts with the 'past' were a little disjointed and confusing to me, and YES, a little pretentious. But I did love anything that the um...what was he, Russian? guy narrated, and the ending was jaw-dropping indeed. SO yeah, not completely incredible, but pretty good!