July 3, 2004

we are being very nomadic with the truth

Posted in books tagged , at 6:18 pm by placeinthestars

I finally finished Everything Is Illuminated.

I’ve been reading it mostly on the train to and from my parents’ house, and not even very often then. The narrative tics and tricks were annoying me – I didn’t find Alex/Sasha’s mangling of the English language charming at first, though it stopped irritating me as he dropped his facade and became more likeable.

It’s his story, really, and it’s sad and beautiful, but there was a lot I could have done without.

Anyhow, excerpts on writing that I thought were particularly pertinent:

I think that this is why I relish writing for you so much. It makes it possible for me to be not like I am, but as I desire for Little Igor to see me. I can be funny, because I have time to meditate about how to be funny, and I can repair my mistakes when I perform mistakes, and I can be a melancholy person in manners that are interesting, not only melancholy. With writing, we have second chances. (p 144)

and

We are being very nomadic with the truth, yes? The both of us? Do you think that this is acceptable when we are writing about things that occurred? If your answer is no, then why do you write about Trachimbrod and your grandfather in the manner you do, and why do you command me to be untruthful? If your answer is yes, then this creates another question, which is if we are to be such nomads with the truth, why do we not make the story more premium than life? It seems to me that we are making the story even inferior. We often make ourselves appear as though we are foolish people, and we make our voyage, which was an ennobled voyage, appear very normal and second rate. We could give your grandfather two arms, and could make him high-fidelity. We could give Brod what she deserves in the stead of what she gets. We could even find Augustine, Jonathan, and you could thank her, and Grandfather and I could embrace, and it could be perfect and beautiful, and funny, and usefully sad, as you say. We could even write your grandmother into your story. This is what you desire, yes? Which makes me think that perhaps we could write Grandfather into the story. Perhaps, and I am only uttering this, we could have him save your grandfather. He could be Augustine. August, perhaps. Or just Alex, if that is satisfactory to you. I do not think that there are any limits to how excellent we could make life seem. (p 179-180)

*meditates on writing for a moment*

***

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