Sunday, October 16, 2016

Here I Am (Book Review)

I was talking to my therapist the other day about the new book, Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer and said to him (I like to offer free marketing advice),

"It's really a great book, but if you can get the author as a client, you'll be set for life, because THIS DUDE HAS ISSUES."

Now, I've never read another book by Safran Foer (I did see the movie of Everything Is Illuminated and enjoyed it), so I had never been exposed to his writing style.

It's intense.

It's raw.

It peels back some pretty bare truths about the human condition.

A friend of mine who has read his previous works said, "it's pretty wild the first time, but it gets old after that."

I could see that.

But I will say that I was really riveted by the book.

Maybe because it was so familiar in so many ways. It takes place in the DC area with so many familiar landmarks.  It is VERY Jewish in its thematics and concepts.  It was appropriate for this time of year as it deals with many of the ideas in the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur liturgy.

In fact, the statement of "Here I Am" is a central statement that Abraham makes prior to being asked to sacrifice Isaac.

I am not sure I fully get the market for this book. It feels like it is custom-built for married Jewish men between 35-50, admittedly not a huge group, but I suppose if you can get past or just accept the fact that some of the layers of nuance will be missed by virtue of things being so heavily entrenched in Judaism, you can get pushed to think deeply about relationships, kindness, sensitivity, thoughts that are said and unsaid, feelings, and truths about yourself and it can be very rewarding.

It's definitely not a book for everyone because the rawness is bound to offend some so much, but if you have a strong stomach, I think it could be worth it.

Two quotes from the book really stuck out with me. I took a picture of the pages.

On closeness...

and the drama of living...

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