Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Everything Is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer

With certain books, isn't it a shame that you can only once read it for the first time?

For me, that once with Everything Is Illuminated was more than three years ago. I remember thinking then that I had experienced one of those moments that can never be duplicated. This would be, I thought then, a book that sticks with me.

And I was right. It stuck. And the moment could not be duplicated -- but really, this re-reading was just as wonderful, if not in the same ways, as the first time I read the book.

Foer's story (or really, three stories) isn't about what happens to the story, although there are some parts where you can't help but laugh at the ridiculousness or the awkwardness. No, the stories are about what happens to the characters, and what happens is just as often internal as otherwise. Maybe none of the characters get where they wanted to go... and maybe none of them really get anywhere. But that's what makes this book so wrenching, and not in a they-shot-Old-Yeller kind of way, and so beautiful.

I'm glad I ordered a hardcover copy. This is one of those books I will read again -- more than I already have -- especially when I need inspiration as a writer.