Saturday, September 02, 2006

 

Book 48: Everything Is Illuminated


I read this book because I saw a preview for the movie. It looked like a creative and interesting film, yet I always try to read the book first. Maybe I'll still see the movie, if i can get if out of the library for free. This book took quite a while to finish. It started out humorously and entertaining. I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened. Would they find Augustine? Would Sammy Davis Jr, jr, the deranged dog, eat all the heroes papers, leaving him stuck in Ukraine indefinitely? If that sounds confusing to you, that's kind of how the second half of the book goes. The story is the correpsondence of Jonathan, an American Jew, and Alex, a Ukranian translator and employee of Heritage Tours. Alex and his Father run a touring company for Jewish Americans who would like to find their families, or what's left of their families' homes in the aftermath of World War II. Jonathan is a college student who has a picture and two names: Augustine and Trachimbrod. Augustine is the woman saved Jonathan's grandfather from the Nazis when they destroyed their small Ukranian village of Trachimbrod. So one chapter is Jonathan's novel, a story of his family starting with an ancestor, Brod, in the late 18th century. Then a chapter is a letter from Alex, and one is about the adventures Alex, his grandfather, Jonathan, and the crazy dog are having. It is somewhat interesting how the story moves both backwards and forwards, but it became extremely dull. I suppose critics would call it creative and artistic, and I generally enjoy that kind of thing. Maybe it has something to do with Jewish culture, being an outsider, that I just don't understand. I felt there were many references to the life of the synagogue, etc, that I didn't understand, and so perhaps that is why I had difficulty in grasping the plot. And towards the end it was a bit sad, but I was actually elated when it was over.

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