Years ago in Talin, Estonia, I needed a book to read. I went to a department store and found the English language book section and searched. I kept coming back to Everything is Illuminated, but wasn’t sure if this is what I wanted. Finally, I picked it up and discovered one of my favourite books ever. Returning to Australia, it was not long before I discovered this, Safran Foer’s second book. It’s very different to the first, but I loved it so much.
Oskar Schell is a young boy whose father died in the September 11 attacks in New York. He was already an unusual character, but in trying to find his way through his grief, he needs to go on his own journey, seeking clues that might help him understand things that have happened.
I just love this so much. Oskar is such a tricky character, and seeing his mother and the world around him through his eyes was fascinating. And then there are the other stories; the stories of his grandmother and grandfather and the war and of immigration. Told in such an unusual way; such a wonderful way.
When the film of this came out, I dreaded it, but I watched it anyhow and really enjoyed it. Now I want to see it again, to see if I still appreciate it.
I am not interested in reading Safran Foer’s third book, a non-fiction called Eating Animals about vegetarianism. I recently became excited to discover that he has a third novel – and then learned that it is not a novel, but an artwork. He took a book called Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz and edited it to remove sections. Not black them out, but physically remove them. He them had a series of these printed, but due to the tricky nature of the work, there are not many and they are very expensive. Perhaps one day I can get my hands on one. His next book, Escape from Children’s Hospital is due out this year. I can’t wait.