It’s starting to sound like I’m making a ton of excuses for not reading (I am), but September’s just passed me by. Like the whole of 2017 has, apparently. This month has been a whirlwind of work, doctor’s appointments and general life madness.
September’s read was Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am. He’s another one of my favourite authors, so when I saw this in the book shop, I didn’t even think twice – most of my impulse purchases seem to happen in book shops…
Here I Am took what I thought was my chaotic life and blew it way out of the water. Safe to say, if you think your family has problems, read this. It tells the story of a Jewish family, living in D.C. in the present day (something my Victorian literature loving brain took a while to get used to).
In the midst of a whole range of family drama, including a soon-to-be bar mitzvah, a suicide and an extra-marital affair, an earthquake and subsequent war in Israel leads everyone to question their identity, as Jews, as people and as a family.
Of course, like any literary novel, these two stories enjoy a nice parallel throughout the novel, both thematically and structurally. As Israel breaks down, so does the family, as Israel goes to war, Jacob (the “main” character) and his wife Julia divorce and all of this culminates with the realisation (or not, for people familiar with the Old Testament), that Jacob and Israel are one and the same.
I make this novel sound incredibly dramatic. It is, in many ways. But, it’s also just the story of a normal family, familiar stresses of marriage and family life and there’s plenty of humour. Its the combination of these that’s the reason Foer’s probably my favourite modern author.