This short novel packs a wallop, mostly due to the method in which it is written. For a quick synopsis of the story refer to the editorial reviews regarding the individual's search for obscure roots, in this case an American Jew travels to the Ukraine in an attempt to understand why his grandfather survived the Nazi invasion. That's all you have to worry about, story wise. But it is the manner in shich this tale is woven that Foer shines. Some of the most hilarious abuse of the English language comes out of the mouth and pen of Alex, a Ukrainian lad who serves as translator for the author's quest in finding the obscure town of Trachimbrod. For this reader, this endlessly creative foray of malapropisms is the highpoint of the book. Foer peoples his escapade with Alex's cranky but lovable grandfather, a farting dog named Sammy Davis Junior, Junior, and a huge supporting cast of quasihistorical characters slowly uncovered in the surreal myth of a simple Ukranian shetl (village).
As with any first novel there are areas which need nurturing by experience to live up to the success as a whole. Foer jumps around so much that at times he loses the reader and asks that we actually work (a little too hard at times) to keep up with his story, such as repeating phrases and words incessantly, creating conglomerate sentences/words, trickster verbiage, etc. This may be the author's way of conveying how the desparate mind functions when faced with incredible reality. The design layout from cover to page is cutesy and tends to cheapen the content. But these are personal responses, and afterall "Everything IS Illuminated"!
One thing remains clearly illuminated: here is a young author who can handle comedy like a pro, tragedy with sensitivity and truth, who can write stories about people that make a difference in your heart, and who has STYLE!
What did you think of this review?
If all this sounds a little daunting, don't be put off; Safran Foer is an extremely funny as well as ...