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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Great Names for Pretentious Indie Bands...


The Jonathan Safran Foer.

(He looks like he could be in it too, doesn't he?)

JSF is only, like, 16 or something (...see what I did there? Savage, huh?) but he writes with a maturity and wisdom that you'd usually associate with someone a lot older - say, I dunno, a 21 year old? Whatevah. I've just finished his first novel (it's about my 4,308th novel - I get through them at a rate of knots. Well, they give me something to read on those long bus journeys and there's only so many times you can skim through your copy of Metro looking for upskirt shots of Jane Moore before you start drawing attention to yourself. Well, you try spending an hour and a half on a busy airport dormitory route lying on the floor staring up at an upside down copy of the free London newspaper and not raise an eyebrow or two...If you can show me how it's done, there's a Parker Knoll Recliner and a year's supply of oven chiops in it for you, Gungadin...).

It's called Everything is Iluminated. That's the kind of thing the novel's half-narrator, Alex, would say when he means to say "everything is clear" and JFS (JSF? Whatevah) uses this technique to splendidly Nabokovian and humorous effect.* Well, so I'd imagined when I saw a bald, Jewish looking chap reading the paperback of it some months ago on the underground. He was laughing his knackers off. I found it less amusing - possibly because I'm not Jewish. Or bald, for that matter - although I am starting to thin a little at the crown. Maybe I should re-read the book in a few years when I've thinned out a little more. Or "done a Burchill". Incidentally, while I mention it, have they let her in yet? That'll be one packed Brighton synagogue when they do, won't it?

Anyway, there are some very funny things in the book - like the bit where Jonathan (yes, it's that kind of book where there's a character in the novel with *exactly* the same name as the author - Jonathan Flivingston Seagull? Whatevah.) is explaining yiddish words to Alex (who is, I should maybe have pointed out earlier Ukrainian. Yes, I know; *crazy*, isn't it?) and all the examples he can think of mean the same as the word 'schmuck'. Or actually *are* schmuck. It also has lots of very moving bits to do with the Holocaust. (Just a minor digression here, but is it just me or does every novel published in the UK over the last decade have, by law, to have something to do with the Holocaust? I'm not complaining - I like a good WWII yarn as much as the next man, but aren't they somewhat over-egging the pudding on this one, just a tad? Just a thought.) Oh, and speaking of puddings - wasn't Sophie Dahl wonderful on the telly the other night. Lovely Roly Poly Puddings. And her desserts weren't half bad either from what I could see.

So, there you have it: "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Saffron Waldon (Ralph Waldo Emerson Lake Huntley & Palmer???? Whatevah).

An excellent read.

Now all he needs are some songs...

*This is the kind of thing I would say, when I could think of nothing better to, at dinner parties - in the unlikely event that anyone would ever considering inviting me to a dinner party to discuss Nabokov (or any Russian novelist, come to think of it.)


  1. I started writing my 5th (or is it my 6th?) novel last week. It is, as are the other 4 (5?) unfinished. Perhaps my stumbling-block is that I can't see a way of including a sequence about the Holocaust.

  2. Sounds like a good read, Bob! I'll look it up sometime! I'm glad you're back to blogging, too! I was wondering if you were still alive! ;)


  3. I can lend you a live bootleg by The Yasmin Alibhai Brown, from their ill-advised stoner-funk period.

  4. Dave:

    Yes, I've had similar problems - no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to make the Holocaust funny. Born in the wrong time, I guess...


    Thank you - I *think* I'm still alive! (Well, I'm writing at least, so it can't be *that* bad, I suppose....

    (L.U.V. your new pic btw...)


    Yep, Fed-ex that little baby over. Does that have the live heavy funk workout version of 'Killing an Arab' on it? *Can't* *wait*!!

    L.U.V. on y'all


  5. Huzzah to see you back again. Even if it is to remind me how intellectually lightweight I am. You read proper books and everything.

  6. Thank you MdF.

    I don't so much read them as use them to prop doors open/rest shelving units on etc.

    But I know what you mean...


    L.U.V. on ya,