Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Foer and Strauss

As is stated in the post immediately below this one -- The good, the bad, et cetera -- I am not a man of refined taste. Far from it. I tend to favour the Hollywood movie over the fancypants art thing from Eastern Europe, Ry Cooder over Mozart, and Terry Pratchett over D.H. Lawrence. In fact, in relation to the last two, it is in my opinion a case of of Everest compared with sea level.

As a consequence of these opinions, I find myself filled with a profound sense of indifference when I read that Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer are New York's golden literary couple. Many decades of writing experience have taught me that I am unlikely, these days, to get much pleasure from reading books by people who attract such praise. Time was, of course, when the latest big thing in New York -- Catch 22 for example -- was actually readable and enjoyable. But those days are long gone.

However, I recognise that there are doubtless readers of this blog whose taste is far more elevated than mine; that wouldn't be difficult, when all is said and done. So you may, conceivably, wish to read the Guardian's profile of the lovely Nicole Krauss. She sounds like a frightfully sensitive girl and her stuff seems to hit the spot for some people.

My personal suspicion -- hey, I'm not called grumpy for nothing, you know -- is that those who admire Nicole Krauss most are those who earnestly desire to emulate her own rise to eminence, and believe that somehow, if they attach themselves to her star, the process will be repeated for them. Fat chance. But you never know.

Meanwhile, if you want to know what Nicole's hubby is up to (Jonathan Safran Foer), you can find a review of his latest, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Noah Cicero over at ULA HQ.

Sadly, the reviewer did not enjoy the book, and he feels thoroughly cheated. Out of 368 pages in this 'novel', 21 are blank, 26 contain just one line, and there are 2 and a half pages of numbers. There are 49 pages of pictures, 4 pages of words written in magic marker in different colors, and a variety of other novelties. In total, says the reviewer, there are 129 useless pages. Only 248 pages are left with story on them.

Well, I guess that's what it takes, nowadays, to be a star in the literary firmament of New York.


Dee Jour said...

"At 13, she was taught One Hundred Years of Solitude at school and had an epiphany. The teacher said it was a book about nostalgia and she thought: 'A word for the thing I feel.' "

I did have a bit of a giggle with the article on Knauss.

If my teacher said that an entire work was about 'one thing' only then they wouldn't be a very good teacher in my mind.

What made me laugh harder was the reference to Knauss 'having an epiphany'. Sometimes I think these journalists lose themselves, in this case they tend to forget what being 'thirteen' is like.

Did Jesus have an epiphany at age 13? I don't remember if he did. His epiphany occured later on in life, after the hormonal whirlpool of adolescence.

Kelly said...

Jonathan's first book was pretty good, though. What I found particularly impressive was that even though Jonathan had no clue about Ukrainian and especially Ukrainian English, his narrator was still compelling and seemed authentic as a character. (I'm a Russianist and usually bad Russian/Slavic elements will cause me to put a book down immediately.)

Jenny Davidson said...

Bookman, you have taken the words right out of my mouth. Terry Pratchett is a far better writer than D. H. Lawrence, and I neither have read nor plan to read any novel by Foer or Krauss, though I read hundreds of novels every year. This was a very good post!