Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Here I Am

Presence. I spent many pleasant hours present with the writing of Jonathan Safran Foer is his latest novel, Here I Am. Over the course of almost six hundred pages, I laughed a lot, became annoyed regularly, and kept thinking about how much of life really does involve showing up and just being there. Along the way in this novel, we are bystanders as a marriage falls apart, precocious children come of age, older generations die, and (spoiler) a dog is finally put down. The separations are intense and the losses are deeply felt. On page 102, we learn about the title, a translation of the Hebrew word, hinemi, here I am, used in the biblical story of Abraham and the sacrifice of his son, Isaac, to mean wholly present. In the story, Abraham is present for God, and Abraham is present for Isaac. Protagonist Jacob is present throughout the novel, acclaiming that life is precious and he lives wholly present in the world, while often being clueless and inadequate. Jewish identity informs this novel and provides plot momentum involving a bar mitzvah and a threat to the survival of the State of Israel. Readers who enjoy the messiness of life, including virtual life that Foer also explores, and who delight in all the broken places that make up our reality, are those most likely to enjoy reading this novel. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Here I Am from amazon.com.

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