Jonathan Safran Foer “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly”
Summer Fiction: 20 Under 40
June14/21 “The New Yorker”

As with Joshua Ferris, I’ve read Jonathan Safran Foer’s second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but have not read his more famous debut, Everything is Illuminated.

It wasn’t because I didn’t want to; I’d bought a copy of his debut immediately when it was available in paperback. Do you ever feel sometimes that you are so sure that you are going to love a book that you don’t need to read it?

Well, that’s how it was with me and Everything is Illuminated, but I did read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close because a reading friend insisted.

(I had avoided her recommendations steadily — including, and still successfully, I add, her insistence that I read William Faulkner — so consistently that I simply had to toss her a reader’s bone and read Foer’s novel. And of course I was exceedingly glad that I did. I realize this bodes well for my reading experience with Faulkner, but I continue to resist.)

But I still haven’t read Everything is Illuminated. And I really don’t want to.

Foer strikes me as a writer who takes his time. And I don’t want to be Foer-less.

And a story like this one, “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly” isn’t much of a gap filler.

I’m guessing that this is the shortest of the stories featured in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 series; although these two pages manage to encapsulate a life, or most of it, with an emphasis on the adult years shared with a spouse.

Thematically it’s a familiar tale, but stylistically this story is innovative. And even if you are the sort of reader who requires a conventional narrative arc, the fact that this experiment continues for only two pages makes it accessible to a wide range of readers.

Most importantly though, it hints at what Jonathan Safran Foer is capable of in a longer form, as in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. If you haven’t read that novel yet, you really should. Although I’m not going to push Faulkner at you.

Here’s a link to a brief Q&A, which also contains a link to the short story( at the time of posting).

Have you read this one? What do you think of Foer’s writing?