I was fist introduced to Jonathan Safran Foer when I was a senior in college. I was taking a contemporary literature class and the teacher let the class vote on our last selection for the quarter, and my seminar decided on Everything is Illuminated. I loved it. Since then I have read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Eating Animals, and various essays and whatnot he has done here and there. I own the no-longer printed Tree of Codes, which I am afraid to handle too much because it's so fragile. He has always been one of my favorites but I had never gotten the chance to go to a reading of his. A few months ago I saw that he was doing an even with Skylight book in LA at the Colburn School in Downtown LA, so my friend and I bought tickets.
Safran Foer's newest book, Here I Am, has gotten mixed reviews, some hating it, some praising the humor and perspective on marriage and politics. I have not read it yet, so I can't weigh in, of course (I did like the parts he read from for about 25 minutes, though). I am realistic, though, and I fully acknowledge the possibility that his first novel in eleven years might not be of the quality we have grown to expect from JSF.
But here's the thing: I can forgive that. I consider myself a pretty proficient baker, but once in awhile my cookies will turn out flat or a pie filling just won't set up. Perfection is impossible. And, even more importantly, imperfection can be humbling. And let's just say after hearing Safran Foer speak I have a hunch that he is a man that could maybe benefit from being humbled on occasion... So perhaps what he actually needs is to write a bad book?
|[view of the Walt Disney Concert Hall across the street]|
Nonetheless, the reading was one of the best I've ever been to, despite the fact that the man is a bit pretentious. I generally hate hearing authors read, but this time I didn't want him to stop. I got a kick out of his candor when answering questions (he did get a little snappy when someone asked about his process, and also when another lady wanted him to name his top three favorite books and authors). He was intelligent, funny, and honest. And just a tiny bit of an asshole...
I have to note that the location was great too. I've been to Downtown LA many, many times before, but this was the first time I've been to a reading at this location, right across from The Broad and The Walt Disney Concert Hall. It was a beautiful night and we lucked out with very little traffic there and back. Friday was a bit rough for my friend and I (she is the teacher next door to me at work), but it was totally worth it.