Thursday, October 22, 2009

Everything is Illuminated

Ha, I actually finished one! :-)

I'd been looking forward to Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated for literally years. Joe raved about it but lent the book to someone so I couldn't read it at the time... In the meantime I read the author's other book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and was very impressed. Now I finally got to the original recommendation.

And I was slightly disappointed. I liked it, but I didn't love it. And I wanted to (and expected to) love it.

I absolutely loved the language used by Alex, the Ukrainian translator. The way he expresses himself, using English words that don't quite belong together, is wonderful. Unique and clever, this way of using language is certainly impressive.

I also liked the various techniques the author used to talk about the various characters who lived during the war, and even way before. In these parts too, his use of language is beautiful and amazing. The phrasing sometimes made me wonder how long it took him to write this book - do such imaginative ways of portraying things really come naturally to some people? Or do they have to work at it?

I did not like the parts about the distant history of the main village and quickly became frustrated with how frequent/long they were at the beginning of the book. I really think that the second half was better for me because the timelines merged more and there was no more of this strange history.

If it wasn't for these parts I would have loved this sad book. It certainly is a different way of talking about the horrible nature of war and what it does to regular human nature. I'd recommend it to everyone out there, it's one of these books that I think you should try for yourself.

Challenges: 1% Well-Read, 2010 Countdown Challenge, 2nds Challenge, 999 Challenge, A-Z Challenge, War through the Generations

13 comments:

Lezlie said...

I'm glad you finally got it finished. It does sound really good, even with the long, boring parts. :-)

I think it comes naturally to the really good writers. Not that they don't have to work hard at it, but maybe once they have it, it *sounds* natural rather than contrived like some others.

Lezlie

joanna said...

Hi Lezlie - the long parts aren't boring exactly, just confusing and frustrating, to me because they were a bit TOO clever and creative, if that makes any sense!

Kailana said...

I have wanted to read this book forever and still haven't. Glad you finally managed to finish a book!

Charley said...

I was also quite impressed with Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, and I hope to read this book soon, although I was neither here nor there about the film.

Nymeth said...

Aw, sorry to hear you didn't l love it :( This is one of those books I not-so-secretly hope everyone will embrace just as I did :P

joanna said...

Kailana - it's one of those that ends up on everyone's list, I think. Hope you get to it soon!

Charley - there's a filmm? ;-) See how with it I am? :-)

Nymeth - I think you have more patience than I do, so can appreciate writing like this more. I'm still glad I read it though!

Lahni said...

I loved this book! I thought it was so funny and it was really clever how Alex used language. Did you notice that his English got better as the book progressed? I thought that was pretty cool!

Trish said...

Yay for finishing a book! I haven't heard much about this one except that people really really like it--I know how disappointing it can be to like but not love something that everyone else does.

anothercookiecrumbles said...

Congratulations on finishing :)

The book sounds pretty damn good... have to admit, it's not really been on my list, albeit Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been.

I'm quite curious about this one now...

joanna said...

Lahni - yes, I did notice that and also thought it was really cool. The language throughout the book really is amazing!

Trish - at least I still liked it, there have been books that everyone loved that I really, really didn't like, that's so much worse!

anothercookie - both are really worth reading and having your own thoughts on - both are very original and interesting.

Anna said...

I hate when there are a few boring parts that drag down an otherwise good book. Have you seen the movie? I haven't but it looked interesting.

I'll get this posted on War Through the Generations as soon as I can.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Anna said...

We posted your review on War Through the Generations.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Jenners said...

I just wrote my own review of this book and was curious to see what other bloggers thought about it ... we had very similar reactions!!!!