4.12.2011

Everything is Illuminated


"If there is no love in the world, we will make a new world, and we will give it walls, and we will furnish it with soft, red interiors, from the inside out, and give it a knocker that resonates like a diamond falling to a jeweller's felt so that we should never hear it. Love me, because love doesn't exist, and I have tried everything that does."

I finished "Everything is Illuminated" yesterday by Jonathan Safran Foer. Remember how much I loved "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close?"

I wish I could say I loved Everything is Illuminated the way I loved that one, but I can't. Here's the thing, I liked the book, but I would be lying if I said that I loved it. That being said, I do think Safran-Foer is a literary genius. Attempting to write a book after reading him is a little disheartening. He is brilliant, and he writes beautifully.

The book was three stories in one. One a letter, one the present, and one the past. I loved the past story. I loved Brod, I loved her entire story. I loved the Gypsy girl, I loved the characters from the past. I even loved the dark, Nazi-crazed scenes, because they really touched me. But overall, the book was too explicit for my liking.

Even though I got my English degree at BYU, I am not a very innocent reader. I believe that books can get away with a lot more than movies can, and I wouldn't be offended. I am used to reading certain swear words, as well as pretty explicit sex scenes. I even had a professor at BYU Hawaii who had a whole lecture built around writing sex scenes well. (He claims the one in Ceremony is the best ever written.) I enjoyed that lecture thoroughly. But Everything is Illuminated was a little too much for me. I felt almost guilty reading it, it was so explicit.

I still think Safran-Foer is a genius, and there are so many beautiful quotes and truths to pull from this novel. Overall however, I found the book a little offensive. So many novels have beautiful quotes, so many novels have truth, so many have characters I come to love. Why he had to put in so much explicit content I don't know.

Have you read it? What did you think?

8 comments:

Kydan said...

Though I've not read the book, the film is a favorite of mine. Quite interesting that the book is as explicit as you say it is, as the film is quite benign.

I'd like to know if the film diverts significantly from the book. It sounds as though it may. You seen it?

emilymcb said...

I feel the same way. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is probably my favorite novel...but I couldn't even finish Everything is Illuminated. And like you, it's not like I only read G-rated stuff.

I do love the movie. The plot is SIGNIFICANTLY different than the book, but I think it's great.

Mandy said...

@ Kydan and Emily - I haven't seen the movie! I am afraid to now after reading the book :) But at your recommendations I will give it a try.

Ash said...

I couldn't even get through it was so explicit. It's the only book I haven't finished because of the sexual content. I love Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close though! And I'm about to start reading Eating Animals.

Rubie Hubie said...

Definitely see the movie :) I haven't read the book. But the movie is absolutely gorgeous, plus fun, plus moving plus interesting. plus plus plus :) lots of good.

emily said...

i feel similar--- i think he's a genius but the weird sexual parts were a little too much for me. otherwise, i did love it. not holistically but almost.

7upkels said...

Never read this one, but I have been wanting to read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for months now... Read over your review, and decided it's a must for my summer reading list!

Amanda said...

I haven't read the book or seen the movie, but I did just start reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and I'm liking it so far...

Thanks for your honesty!