Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

written by Jonathan Safran Foer

Before requesting this book at the library, I checked out "Everything is Illuminated" and found the writing exceptional, the storytelling insightful and the subject matter engaging. The problem lay in the fact that I had seen the movie, starring Elijah Woods, and I really liked it. I liked it so much that I knew I would love the book. The problem was...I had seen the movie, and it was done well, to well.
"All the ladies want to be carnal with me cause I am such a primo dancer," was to fresh in my mind, I couldn't get past the movie to read the book. It was heartbreaking.

My desire to read a work by Foer led me to his next novel and I was thoroughly pleased. At first, the layout and flow of the chapters are a bit jolting. There is a tendency to let your mind wander rather than expend the effort it takes to engage in the quirks of this style. But, wait a moment and allow the jostling to be a soothing ride. This book did not disappoint.

There is a side story in is this novel, involving a grandmother. She is writing a diary as such to her grandson, explaining to him how her marriage of rules had made her life so confined that it was a waste. I pondered over this idea for some time, realizing how I may have made my own marriage a "marriage of rules". There are rules about where things belong, how to wash them, who is in charge of one thing or another and on and on. I was, well, depressed. In the book, the husband has left. He has walked away, he does not want to be confined by all the rules.

This Marriage of Rules is killing them.

I discovered something about my marriage, thank you Mr. Foer. My marriage has guidelines, my marriage has boundaries, my marriage has certain tastes and desires, my marriage has preferences. But to call it a Marriage of Rules would be doing it such a disservice. Our marriage is a marriage of life, and one worth treasuring, one worth fighting for. And sometimes fighting for this marriage means compromising about how something is done, or where it belongs. There is no right way or wrong way to live life (i'm not talking spirituality or morals, i'm talking folding laundry and putting the dishes away) so how can we follow any list of rules? We can't. We can respect one another, be a helper to one another, and take the burden of life's chores from one another.

So, if there is a marriage where one person is making the rules and the other person is being forced to live by them; that is a Marriage of Rules. But in a partnership, defining these things as rules, is in my opinion, a pessimistic approach to marriage. I think ours is simply, marriage. Rules may exists in some form or another, but they do not define our marriage. I now understand that Foer's example is not a mirror of my marriage and I don't need to fear a similar end result. There will be other things to fear, but also, just so you know at least I don't have to fear death, I'm pretty sure Andy promised he'd never die.

Oh, and read the book I think you'll end up liking it like I did.


sufferingsummer said...

I have not read anything by this man as of yet mostly because I seem to have some sort of phobia of modern writers that is completely unfounded and honestly quite ridiculous. I have seen Everything is Illuminated starring Mr. Frodo...I loved the movie as well probably because I'm an obsessive found object collector but Colin and I were often found quoting the line you quoted as it is just too good not to.
I think how you characterize marriage is right on...although sometimes how the laundry is done does feels like a moral issue (ok so only when a designer sweater shrinks to barbie size!) I think I have a few new works to check out! thanks!

Andy said...

It's hard to get people to read blogs isn't it?

Almost like everyone who acts interested in you in the outside world....is faking it!

Or just lazy ;).

Haven't read the book, nothing witty to say there.

elixir said...

I too loved the movie and for some reason it did not occur to me to check out the author for other lovely and witty works. Thanks for a good reference, and for processing through the marriage thoughts...I like your wisdom.

sufferingsummer said...

Hi! I just wanted to let you know I just nominated you for a 'thinking blogger award' on my blog, because i like reading your thoughts, they are thoughtful and stuff.

Flo Oakes said...

You and Andy look cute.
That's all I have to say because it is past midnight, and I am tired and I just discovered that you actually have a blog! Hurray!

Walter said...

I just found out that I CAN comment on here. I tried before and was too dull-witted to figure out how.

But now I forget what I was going to say...