Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

3/31/2005

[update: Blogger has been miserable lately. Very slow and spotty. So I hope this goes through.]
Back from Erie. Gray. Gray gray gray. But it was good to see the family. Good writing weather, actually.

Jonathan Safran Foer's latest novel sparked this review, an except of which is below:
It's good to see that Foer is sticking to his original, successful formula of milking historical tragedy for yucks and book sales while remaining blissfully indifferent to the historical details of those tragedies: well, it's good because the emerging pattern removes any doubt that Foer has no qualms about exploiting the sympathy that naturally gravitates towards victims of tragedy to lend weight to his puerile and essentially solipsistic narrative and linguistic gymnastics. Foer is painfully inadequate to the task of grappling with the horrors amidst which we find ourselves: a close familiarity with the work of writers who patiently attend to the gritty reality and the real victims of history's traumas (Elie Wiesel, W.G. Sebald, even Kurt Vonnegut for Pete's sake) would make this clear, but the vacuous amnesia of the Eternal Media Present ensures that such familiarity is a rarity. I'm sure that deep in his heart Foer is a decent person who actually cares about the types of people his cartoonish characters are meant to represent. But this genuine decency is unfortunately marred by a number of different factors: a self-indulgent impatience with the details of history, an excessive faith in the redemptive power of his own considerable inventiveness (fueled no doubt by his success), a sensibility informed too much by bad Hollywood and not enough by good literature, a facile and predictable application of postmodern literary technique, and a public and critical establishment so starved for anything remotely serious and original in contemporary fiction that they're eager to be suckered in by shoddy pretenders to the throne.

2 Comments:

At 4/04/2005 06:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that someone is keeping it real here. When I heard that the plot of Foer's novel combined 911 w/ the holocost, I groaned. Then I sighed realizing that he beat me to the punch. That's a fuckin' brilliant idea.

Of course, I will not read the odious tear-jerker of a novel. Who cares about this shit? We all saw enough 911 sobby shit to last a lifetime. I think that the 911 people can deal with their own problems and they don't need the media and book writers to help them out. That's a personal thing and those people who are trying to make a buck from their tragedy are truly lame. I do envy the success, however.

Also, I am not as handsome as this guy. I saw him in a cuddly sweater. I bet he gets blown after each reading.

Anyway, I thought that this review was brilliant and well written. It says everything that I thought, but was afraid to say b/c people would say I was jealous. (I am).

Also, I can't write that well. As the reviewer, I mean.I appreciate being saved reading the book and writing a (not as good) review just to debunk this vile junk.

Fred

 
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