Charlotte Reads Classics

Slowly, slowly, she sipped a sentence.

Tag: Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer

There seems to be a massive cult following of this book in America, which I don’t think has transferred here to the same degree, but I would call this a modern classic in the making. Everything Is Illuminated is a very self conscious novel, but its self awareness works. What I love about the book is that whilst being comical and at times confusing, it is actually a very intelligent comment on the importance of personal history, and the undercurrents of life being love and sadness. It was unexpectedly very appropriate to read after Proust as a lot of the themes were similar.

I must confess I found Alex very irritating, but I didn’t think the book suffered for it. I loved Foer’s self characterisations too – it gave the impression that he’s a good sport in real life! My favourite parts of the novel by far were the historical stories of Trachimbrod. I am always drawn to books that cover the second world war through family history; this one was at times enigmatic, but very well written. As I was reading, I got the feeling that I was collecting beautiful phrases, like little trinkets. It is a very visual novel, so I’d be quite intrigued to see the film. I’m now not sure what I was expecting this to be, but what it is isn’t what I thought. In a good way.

I would recommend this, if only to hear more opinions on it as everybody’s reaction to this book seems really personal. A friend has lent me her copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and I have completely fallen in love with the ideas behind A Convergence of Birds, so expect to see reviews of those in the future.


(You have ghosts?)
(Of course I have ghosts.)
(What are your ghosts like?)
(They are on the insides of the lids of my eyes.)
(This is also where my ghosts reside.)
(You have ghosts?)
(Of course I have ghosts.)
(But you are a child.)
(I am not a child.)
(But you have not known love.)
(These are my ghosts, the spaces amid love.)
Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated

I love you also means I love you more than anyone loves you, or had loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that I love no one else, and never have loved anyone else, and never will love anyone else.
Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated

It was inevitable: Yankel fell in love with his never-wife. He would wake from sleep to miss the weight that never depressed the bed next to him, remember in earnest the weight of gestures she never made, long for the un-weight of her un-arm sung over his too real chest … He felt that he had lost her. He had lost her. At night he would reread the letters that she had never written him.
Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated


He had lost so many slips of paper over time, and keys, pens, shirts, glasses, watches, silverware. He had lost a shoe, his favorite opal cufflinks (the Sloucher fringes of his sleeves bloomed unruly), three years away from Trachimbrod, millions of ideas he intended to write down (some of them wholly original, some of them deeply meaningful), his hair, his posture, two parents, two babies, a wife, a fortune in pocket change, more chances than could be counted.
Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated