I read the first chapter and stopped. I am pissed off. I have rarely felt so manipulated as a reader in my life, and I think the manipulation is more about the way it is written than what it is written about, although that is, in itself, fairly manipulative. If this is how Foer
usually writes, I want no part of him or his work. Still, if this was a short story and I reached the point where the Dad is about to talk to his son before the towers collapse, I would be excited by the cleverness of the moment, would look forward to the conversation, and be pleased in anticipation of the genuine anguish that must be coming. But it's not a short story. It's the first chapter in what is a pretty long book, and I imagine all manner of excruciating crapness is to come. Couple that with a first person narrative in the voice of a "precocious" kid -- so precocious, in fact, that he sounds like a thirty-something man trapped in a kid's body rather than a genuinely precocious kid (I often suspect, when these impossibly precocious characters appear, that the author wants to write as a child but realizes he isn't good enough, so he makes them precocious so he can just write as themselves at their least disciplined and pretend it is a child) -- and I want to tear my eyeballs out after only twenty some-odd pages. Even worse, I didn't know this was about the WTC attack until I got this to the cash register. I just saw it on sale, knew it had good buzz, liked the cover and thought, "What the hell?!" I need to reexamine my impulse buying, apparently, because I would not have bought this book if I'd known what it was about before I did. I think, too, that if I keep reading this book it is going to be lucky to get one star, so it's probably best to leave it where it is for now: on my to-read shelf, buried under that copy of Shogun
that's been there for a decade.