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Posts Tagged ‘jonathan safran foer’

on a recent train ride i read extremely loud and incredibly close by jonathan safran foer and white noise by don delillo.

i cracked open extremely loud and incredibly close around 10am and was finished around 5pm. the, loveliest book, ever. it’s narrated by a little boy whose dad died in 911, and it’s about a quest he goes on to find some shit out. i laughed, i cried, i felt like a huge weirdo for having such noisy reactions in the quiet car of the amtrak train. one of my favorite passages is from the very first page, here it is so you can read it:

what about little microphones? what if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? when you skateboard down the street at night you could hear everyone’s heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. one weird thing is, i wonder if everyone’s hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which i know about, but don’t really want to know about. that would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn’t have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. and at the finish line at the end of the new york city marathon it would sound like war.

another part i really really liked comes later, when oskar (the narrator) meets a sorta eccentric old man who lives in the apartment above him. the man has this fantastical card catalog with a card for every person he’s ever met or head of; each card has the person’s name and a one word description of who they are.

he slid out drawers from the cabinet and pulled cards from the drawers, one after another. “henry kissinger: war! ornette coleman: music! che guevara: war! jeff bezos: money! philip guston: art! mahatma gandhi: war!” “but he was a pacifist,” i said. “right! war! arthur ashe: tennis! tom cruise: money! elie wiesel: war! arnold shwarzenegger: war! martha stewart: money! rem koolhaas: architecture! ariel sharon: war! mick jagger: money! yasir arafat: war! susan sontag: though! wolfgang puck: money! pope john paul II: war!” i asked him if he had a card for stephen hawking. “of course!” he said, and slid out a drawer, and pulled out a card. “stephen hawking: astrophysics” “do you have a card for yourself?” he slid out a drawer. “a.r. black: war husband”

another thing i really liked is that whenever oskar is sad or upset he says he has heavy boots. sometimes he has very very heavy boots. you gotta read it.

and then there’s white noise, which i’ve been meaning to read for a billion years. am still in the process of reading it, but it’s really good, and a lot easier to get through and enjoy than, say, infinite jest and other well-known examples of post-modernist literature. while there are lots of books i read slowly and love anyway, usually the mark of a good book (for me, at least) is how quickly i finish it; that is, how loath i am to put it down. white noise is engaging enough to be a page turner, but still incorporates deeper meanings and scathing cultural commentaries like the best of ’em.

after a toxic chemical cloud descends over the narrator and his town, his family is forced to evacuate. while stopped at a gas station, he is briefly exposed, and a statistical computer program quickly assures him of his imminent death. this was a paragraph i liked reading:

i wanted them to pay attention to the toxic event. i wanted to be appreciated for my efforts in getting us to the parkway. i thought of telling them of the computer tally, the time-factored death i carried in my chromosomes and blood. self-pity oozed through my soul. i tried to relax and enjoy it.

 

let’s start a festo bookclub, like oprah’s but better.

[ stefanie ]

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