I am off to the first of our Houston author reading series. This year I decided to subscribe to the entire series. One of the bonuses of doing that is receiving a free book, Jonathan Safran Foer's latest, Here I Am. Everyone loves a free book.
Oh, how I wanted to like this book. I adored Foer's second book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. And this was a free copy. And I got to see the author. Couldn't wait to hear him speak. And then to read the book.
Then Foer is introduced and reads from his book. He reads a scene from a urinal. His main character thinks he sees (and I mean, SEES) Steven Spielberg there. It's brilliant writing. And incredibly crude. This is a huge book. Foer could have read anything to us. He reads us a scene from a urinal. I'm beginning to feel a little worried.
Foer talks about the themes of his book. The disintegration of a marriage. Our struggle to be present in our own lives. The paradoxes we must live through---be a parent or be an individual, live by our religious values or our secular values, taking risks or playing it safe. I feel like I'm on higher ground. The urinal scene, when read in context, will have meaning, I'm sure.
Foer answers questions after his reading. He speaks to the hypervigilence of our modern existence. How small things can ruin a life. Paying attention. I'm eager again to get to the book.
The reading is over. I pull out my book first thing when I get home and read, even though it's an hour past my normal bedtime and I've got a full day tomorrow at work. I read and I read and I read, and I feel like I'm reading pages and pages of nothing, like I've eaten a full dinner of whipped cream. Tomorrow, I think. I'll try again then.
I do, and it doesn't get better for me. Nothing. The characters are appalling, all of them, even the children. They don't connect with each other, and they do appalling things, though, oddly, all the things they do are not real acts but virtual ones, and still that doesn't make the appalling things less appalling.
In the end, I give up. A hundred and fifty pages in, but I can't bear reading on.
You read on for me, will you? Let me know what I missed, and tell me if I gave up too early.
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