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?