Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Very Premium Book and Its Equally Premium Movie

So. After weeks with no word from my fellow freakybloggers, and a push from the International Mastermind, my boss who gives me the highest payment by reading what I've written and commenting on them, I have decided to be selfish and post yet again. In truth I miss freakyblogging, and reading what you guys are reading, and I hope the rest of you come back soon!

Until then I'll just draw your attention to a book I've wanted to read ever since it came out, but only got the chance to read very recently.

Everything is Illuminated

Everything Is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer, isn't a freakybook on the whole, but its many disparate and freaky bits and pieces create a tale that proves sometimes just regular everyday life can be freakier, stranger and more miraculous that any freaky product of the imagination. The book follows three points of view, across three different time periods; that of Jonathan, the young American author come to Ukraine to find his grandfather's wartime saviour(a woman named Augustine)while writing a rather magical account of the village and people of Trachimbrod ranging from the early 19th century to World War Two; that of the young Ukrainian translator and guide who describes and narrates the search for Augustine using his hilarious and endearing mangled version of English, and all these being attached to letters Alex sends to Jonathan.
It sounds a bit confusing but once the book is in your hands it really isn't all that daunting, even being rather short for a novel with such an epic scope. The problem with Everything Is Illuminated, as one critic so accurately points out, is that its first chapters are so hard to read, mainly because " burst out laughing every few sentences, lose your place, get tempted to call your friends and read out long sections of the prose, and then have to start all over again".
The novel excels at being a comedy; in fact the last time a book made me literally laugh out loud was Tom Holt's Earth, Water,Fire and Custard, but also is so incredibly touching, poignant and utterly miserable, only to make you bust a gut laughing again by the next page.
Most of the humour comes from a dog named Sammy Davis Junior Junior, a "blind" grandfather who apparently has no problem driving a car or reading road signs, and my personal favourite, Alex's mangled English,which surely must be some genius form of sentence construction. The dialogue is also sharp, witty, and almost insanely funny;

Jonathan: I'm a vegetarian.
Alex: You're a what?
Jonathan: I don't eat meat.
Alex: How can you not eat meat?
Jonathan: I just don't.
Alex: [to Grandfather, in Russian] He says he does not eat meat.
Grandfather: [to Alex, in Russian] Yes you do.
Alex: [to Jonathan, in English]Yes you do.
Jonathan: No meat.
Alex: Steak?
Jonathan: No...
Alex: Chickens!
Jonathan: No...
Alex: And what about the sausage?
Jonathan: Oh god, not the sausage,no.
Alex: [to Grandfather, in Russian] He says he does not eat any meat.
Grandfather: [to Alex, in Russian] Not even sausage?
Alex: [to Grandfather, in Russian] I know!
Grandfather: [to Alex, in Russian] What is wrong with him?
Alex: What is wrong with you?

In any case, Bloody Awful Poetry highly recommends. There is also a movie adaptation of the book,starring Elijah Wood and directed by Liev Schreiber, which, for once, I am very pleased to say, is almost as good as the book itself. This is for the simple reason that it does not stay with the book word by word, neither does it stray too far from canon, but it simply becomes its won wonderful story while staying true to the essence of the novel. For a little taste of it you can have a look at the trailer. It makes an equally premium movie, with a supremely premium soundtrack,which is really just the icing on a very premium cake, as Alex Perchov would say.

You can buy the book here or purchase the DVD here.


International Mastermind said...

Nice! I love vegitarian jokes. My mom says that they are mean, and I shouldn'r, seeing as I am one, but I do love them.

"Oh, no! Not the sausage."

Bloody Awful Poetry said...

Ooh you'rre vegetarian? By choice?
I couldn't do it. I mean, i love veg, but i couldn't survive on it alone. I'm a meat-eating girl.

International Mastermind said...

Yeah, but I'm a bad vegitarian. I haven't eaten meat in years-that's not what I mean. I HATE vegetables! Only some, like potatoes and corn, I like. And spinach served a certain way. I guess I like a lot of them, but I barely eat any!

It's fake sausage and real cheese for me!

Bloody Awful Poetry said...

Oh no, not the sausage!!

Oooh I like all veg! Well. Except carrots. I don't hate them, I have a thing about them. I always pick them out and put them on the side of my plate so I don't actually ingest any.

Cassie said...

Response to the YouTube video: That seems like a good movie, I'd watch it, but I'm not so sure I'd read the book. ^_^ Marvelous post, by the way!