Jonathan is a Jewish college student searching Europe for the one person he believes can explain his roots. Alex, a lover of all things American and unsurpassed butcher of the English language, is his lovable Ukrainian guide. On their quixotic quest, the two young men look for Augustine, a woman who might have saved Jonathan's grandfather from the Nazis. As past and present merge, hysterically funny moments collide with great tragedy, and an unforgettable story of one family's extraordinary history unfolds.
Don't miss Jonathan Safran Foer and Martin Amis at The New Yorker Festival.
©2002 Jonathan Safran Foer; (P)2002 Recorded Books, LLC
"An impressive, original debut." (Publishers Weekly)
"Nearly everything about this remarkable book is illuminated....Although there's plenty of lyrical acrobatics here, with exquisite magic realism intermingling with Alex's uproarious narration, it's the emotional depth of the characters that stands out." (Booklist)
"Read it, and you'll feel altered, chastened -- seared in the fire of something new." (The Washington Post)
This was the worst book I've ever read. I kept plodding through it, hoping that it would redeem itself. But it never did. The story was uninteresting and not at all humorous, although I do believe that it was supposed to be.
Also just a comment for Audible - this is introduced as "audible kids" and this is not a childrens' book! It threw me off at first.
I love literary fiction and I occasionally delve into non-fiction. I love books that are suspenseful and am really into well-told stories.
I don't care if I don't garner a lot of "helpful" reviews here... I just need to vent. JSF is nobody. I HATE his writing style and he doesn't get extra points for only being 25 when we published this. The story of Bume is lifted STRAIGHT out of the story of Remedious the Beauty from 100 Years of Solitude, and he even uses the same literary trick by naming everyone the same name (fortunately, they all have stupid nicknames). Man, what an awful book and I also hated the other one about 911, so it this brat makes you swoon, go for it... but I don't think he writes well, I don't think he is some sort of prodigy, i just think that he has a big thesaurus next to him and uses it too much! What a GAWD-awful book! Oh! And the rip off the the "Wild a Crazy Guys" that Steve Martin and Dan Ackroyd did 30 years ago ... they called... they want their characters back! Horrible, horrible horrible dreck.
Where do I start. The character from Ukraine, his version of English is so artificia; so many large words that a non-native speaker would never know but they made for more locker room humor. This was clearly written for boys.
see above comments
I think the narrator was fine
no, which was so disappointing because i found his other book, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" beautiful and very moving,
I should have heeded the warnings of other reviewers.
This story was very original and and was good in theory. However, trying to listen to it for hours on end was a battle. If someone told me the story in a synopsis, even if I listened to a short excerpt, I would think that I would enjoy this book. However, I got so tired of listening to Alex, the Ukranian guide with a unique use of the English language. Also, I lost my appreciation of the stories from centuries ago as they were just very odd. The narrarator did a good job with the accents, etc. I just think the material got very old, very quickly. I did enjoy the sections of the modern journey that were written through the eyes of Jonathan, the American traveler. It probably would be better in print, as you could skim over some sections. I absolutely refuse to give up on a book, and the ending really was good. It just took quite a while to get there....
Our hero could have cut out the entire story about the lives of his ancestors in medieval Poland/Ukraine. The hero's own trip to Ukraine was interesting as a memoir, and the Ukrainian translator's English was clever. Also the story of the World War 2 - Nazi invasion, and the lives of the characters at that point could have made a good story on its own, but the book, especially the Jewish stettle storyline from 1730 till 1940 came to naught and really has no continuity, and quite frankly is not clever and is downright confusing. Essentially, don't waste your currency on this nod, comrade. Maybe he can rewrite the book with all of the interesting stuff and make it into a novel about Ukraine from WW2 to modern day. He could develop the Grandfather character's life, and it would be worth reading (listening to), I suggest a revision, or a new novel altogether. There is potential here, but this book is far from reaching it.
The story alternates between the modern-day search in Russia for the woman who saved the protaganist's grandfather, as told in Roget's Thesaurus English -- this story is funny, gripping, and wonderful to listen to -- and an imagined history of the protaganist's family, starting in the 1700's. These parts are just bad. At first I thought that they were a joke ... meant to be the protaganist's attempts at bad writing ... bt it goes on and on ... and after a while you realize that he's serious. If I were reading the book I could have skipped over those chapters, but listening, you are forced to go through them. That I did is a testament to how brilliant the modern-day journey part was.
I was looking for just a glimmer of hope for humanity, for a little bit of deliverance from the darkness and hopelessness of the story. I found none. Humanity is portrayed as an ugly, hopeless, cruel and all-together miserable lot. Life is viewed as a disappointing and hopeless experience with a sense of humor as its only deliverance. This is a very dark and depressing view and the book is not a good read for someone looking for a soul-soothing story.
The story portrays life as being hopeless, ugly, cruel. The story ends abruptly with no resolution. It also is very pessimistic, negative, dark - a hurtful read in many ways.
The terrible scene when the woman gets shut in her wumb
For anyone with a delicate and sensitive disposition: do not read.
The humor of the poor translator trying to keep up with the story is good for the first hour. The humor (?) in the distant family history relies too much on scatalogical and sexual humor, which wears thin almost immediately. The book doesn't get better as you go. I stopped after 2 hours.
Some parts of this book were so funny I had to cover my mouth to keep from laughing out loud on my commuter train. But the last few minutes of the book were gone, it just went sraight to the credits. I was very disappointed to not hear the complete ending.
If you might enjoy listening to Latka Gravas (Taxi) beat a dead horse for hours on end, this is the book for you. The punch line is, I guess, the Ukrainian's excessive reliance on a thesaurus, finding "ammusing" equivalents to conventional expressions, which gets "geriatric expeditiously." Maybe it gets better mid-way, but I wasn't willing to suffer through another hour hoping for a miraculous appearance of substance.
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