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Important Books

May 27, 2011

I’m still one hundred pages away from finishing this book, Everything is Illuminated. I have been reading it very slowly. 10 days and I’ve not quite finished 200 pages. This is an unprecedented slowness for me. Particularly for fiction.

As stated, I have been reading it slowly. But this is both a product of circumstance and non-circumstance. Firstly, I’ve been working a lot in the yard over the past week, so most of my free time has been consumed by something other than reading. Secondly though, this book is not a fast read.

It is a challenging read, that is for sure. Two narrators, three or four audiences that the narrators address in three or four different styles. Each very, very distinctive.

The other reason that this book is inherently a slow read is because it is filled with philosophy. Brimming with it. The fact that so much is contained to the less-than-300 page novel is very impressive. But it is more than that.

This book is painful to read. In a good way. Today, I was eating a quick supper on the run, and, as I do my best not to waste time doing nothing, I was reading while I was eating in my solitary state. I read something and it broke my heart. Completely. I was half-way through a paragraph and I put the book down. And I was disturbed.

It cannot be read fast.

I can sense that, somehow unlike most of the books that I have read this year (all of which I have enjoyed to varying degrees), this book is an important one for me. It is bothering me, and making me uncomfortable, and making me laugh. It takes what it is doing so seriously that it includes humour – something I have for so long avoided in literature – and the humour is also heartbreaking.

This man, Jonathan Safran Foer, is a very, very talented writer.

Regarding Zeitoun. I finished it. I have been thinking about it – thinking of what to share with you. I’m torn about Dave Eggers, and about the book. Just as I was with What is the What?. But I’ll let you know what I think about it… eventually.

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