Customer Review

123 of 143 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Storytelling doesn't have to shout, November 21, 2005
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This review is from: Everything Is Illuminated: A Novel (Paperback)
Somewhere, buried in Everything is Illuminated is a poignant, moving, original story about a man searching for the woman who saved his Grandfather from the Nazis. Aiding him in his search is the most endearing character in the novel, Alex, who writes English by always searching for a thesaurus term to replace the plain original word - resulting in a highly entertaining brand of comically prolix English. This device is the best narration technique in the novel (although not, as many critics in the blurb claim, a linguistic achievement on a par with Burgess in A Clockwork Orange).

The rest of the novel, however, is taken up with an aggressive array of flashy modern narrative devices - magic realism, hysterical realism, Jewish confession etc., all of which blast the reader with great 'look at me' demonstrations of the writer's virtuosity, but lack any sense of pacing, rhythm, balance and poise.

The principal gripe I have with modern novels such as this, is that in such a competitive, overcrowded market, young writers feel pressured to burst out with something dazzling and innovative, often invoking a range of literary techniques (as Foer does) without really understanding how they can be used most effectively. If the New York publishing scene was less preoccupied with hyping up flashy new bestsellers, and let talented young writers develop slowly, modern novels might have a chance to display some of the quiet literary inspiration that is the hallmark of past masterpieces.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 29, 2007 1:05:00 PM PDT
K. Mallery says:
This is an excellent and insightful review.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 14, 2010 7:57:03 PM PDT
Secret Santa says:
I agree. Excellent review, putting the book in context. The reviewer is exactly right.
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