2005-06-08

JSF & KRAUSS

A few months back I made my feelings about Foer-the-person very clear here.

Not long after, the new book dropped, and I bought it, figuring it was no longer fair to keep ripping into the guy unless I actually read his work. To be honest, I dreaded reading the book, and let it sit on my bedside table for almost a month before I steeled myself sufficiently. However, eventually I did reach for it, and I have to say, I thought it was great from the very first page. I loved this nine-year-old and I willingly followed him all over the boroughs on New York as he battled his own inner demons and went searching for the lock to fit a mysterious key. I loved his friends, too, and his relatives, and not only did I laugh out loud at many passages, I also cried a great deal, too. So JSF got points on both those counts. Lots has been said in not very nice ways about the “gimmicks” in these pages (photographs, sketches, pages of number-strings) but I, for one, found them not gimmicky in the least (and let me be the first to say that I am always always reading with my gimmick-radar on, which is why I refuse to read 99% of everything that has any relationship to McSweeneys). I found all those photos and sketches and numbers to be completely character- and experience-revelatory. Ultimately, I liked this book so much that, finding myself with an hour to kill during errands last week, I chose to drive myself to the nearest bookstore and read the last 100 pages leaned up against a bookshelf with a store copy in hand, because I just didn’t want to wait until I got home. And I cried at the end, sitting on that bookstore floor while people stepped over and around me, so there you go. I said I’d withhold judgment until I’d read the new book. I read the new book, I liked the new book. The guy can write, and I wish him the best future career. That said, I also wish he’d keep his clapper shut.

Anyway, since I like books and I like marriage, and Nicole Krauss is married to JSF, and her new book dropped around the same time his did, I ordered both her new book and her first. I’m halfway through the first novel now and Jeesh, this woman’s imagination and her extraordinary, aching, precise prose are breathtaking in the extreme. I’m reading this book slowly because I don’t want to finish too fast, so yeah, I think she's pretty good, if not better than her husband, too.

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