The Next Best Book Club discussion

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Other Novels To Discuss > Everything is Illuminated

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message 1: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) As I mentioned elsewhere, I'm having a really hard time with this book, and I can't figure out why.

I like the back and forth structure - present day letters from the "translator" to the author, with the translator's shaky grasp of idomatic English vs. the "history" of the author's family.

Any thoughts?


message 2: by Jeane (new)

Jeane | 4891 comments hayes, in short what is the book about?


message 3: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 714 comments I really loved it but I did listen to the audio version which was a riot. Hang in there with it- it's definitely worth it.


message 4: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) It's about a trip that a young Jewish man takes to the Ukraine to fine the village and where his grandparents were from, which was destroyed by the Nazis during WWII. He has a photograph of his grandfather with the woman who saved him and he is looking for this woman as well.

I can see where the audio version or the film (which I haven't seen) would be more engaging, especially if done with decent actors. It's a bit difficult to decifer while reading and that's irritating me... I find I hav to read certain parts two or three times to figure out who's talking and what they're saying.

It gets a little mystical in parts and that lost me as well. I'm in the middle when the "hero" and his "translator" and his "driver" finally have arrived in the area that was near the destroyed village, and it's getting a little better, but I find it tiresome.

I will plug along, however. I'm curious to see how it will end.


message 5: by Jeane (new)

Jeane | 4891 comments Your description sounded very good Hayes but your comments later make me step back a bit.


message 6: by Selena (new)

Selena (selenacurrently) So far both of J. Foer's books are written in this style. If you come into the experience knowing that, it isn't confusing.
He also tries to make the book sound foreign. For example, Alex (the tour guide and interpreter) uses the word carnal in place of the word sex in its verb form. But in the context of the sentence it makes perfect sense.

I loved this book. It was wonderful and it had such a touching yet heart-breaking story. Jeane, I would really give it a try to see if this style works for you. Both of his books are well-worth the time that it takes to get used to them.


message 7: by cindy (new)

cindy | 5 comments I know I remembered this title from somewhere, and now I do remember. I saw the movie. But then, I didn't know that it was taken from a book.
OOT - The Movie is in the same title and cast Elijah "Frodo" Wood as the young jewish. It's quite touching and has a superb, very artistic cinematographic. Hayes, maybe you should see the movie to add the boost to read it (or just to see the ending - movie version) ;)


message 8: by Selena (new)

Selena (selenacurrently) The movie doesn't do the story enough justice - it leaves the best part out - but if viewed separately from the book it is indeed a great movie!


message 9: by Leah (new)

Leah (ling_ling) | 226 comments I haven't read the book yet but having seen the movie on its own it was a really good movie and I am looking forward to reading the book because I know they always leave stuff out of the films


message 10: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) That's why I'm reading the book, cause I'm mental about reading a book before I see the movie... but I'm not really liking it... oh well. Happens... I may just go and see the movie now anyway, because I'm curious to see how it has been handled.

Maybe I'm just getting old, but there's too much sex in this book too... is it really necessary? I'm afraid I'm beginning to sound like an old granny!


message 11: by Nadia (new)

Nadia (bagambo) I loved this book. I found it refreshing and brilliant! I loved Alex - he was by far the best character. The writing of the book is amazing! Foer creates this world filled with vivid images and endearing characters and heartbreaking scenes that just draw you in. Definitely, a great read!


message 12: by Erin (new)

Erin Quinn (erin_quinn) | 59 comments Nadia wrote: "I loved this book. I found it refreshing and brilliant! I loved Alex - he was by far the best character. The writing of the book is amazing! Foer creates this world filled with vivid images and end..."


Nadia, have you seen the movie? I loved the movie as well. The characters are amazing.



message 13: by Liz (new)

Liz I agree with you, Erin, that the movie is really good. I also love the book and even if Alex is meant to have a foreign accent, some of the lines in the book are very poignant. There was one quote that I loved but I can never find it again.


message 14: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) No offense intended MaryZorro... (my old granny was one of the hippest women ever!) ((and I'm so old that I still use the word "hip")).

As for the magical realism, legend part (which I didn't finish) What was the point?? Maybe because I didn't read it all, I didn't get it. Could some of you youngsters explain the relationship of sections to the main story??

Exactly, I just didn't get it. I have just finished "Oscar Wao" which is similar in some ways (and full of sex and bad language) and found it totally engaging and not disturbing at all. Who knows why? I really did have the impression that Foer's book was written first as a screenplay, and made a book while they were organizing the film (and I have a suspicion that many books are produced this way).


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