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Everything Is Overhyped

By Jess D'Amico in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 4, 2007 3:00PM

2007_09_everythingilluminated.jpgWe were probably among the last people not to have read Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. But no longer are we among those unhappy few. Honestly, our main deterrent was the hype. It was the "new cool" hipsters' book, so smug. That and the back cover looked ho-hum (yeah, we're shallow), so we kept declining on principle. But it was a bad decision. Finally a friend convinced us to read it while on a roadtrip, and after we got past the first thirty pages, we couldn't stop reading — or highlighting — our friend's copy.

The meter of the prose is perfect, and while separately the beautiful yet sometimes overwritten histories in Trachimbrod and Alexi's hilarious but tender canter could get tiresome, together the two are a divine black-and-white milkshake. The flavor keeps changing, but in two familiar ways. Also, we are unashamed suckers for anyone who successfully plays with form non-narratively in a narrative, so we had a hard time not squirming with nerdy delight at "We are writing" and "The Book of Dreams." We came away glowing from this book, the opposite of the books in Trachimbrod's library, which the tired librarian says are "all about love." Everything is Illuminated is, ultimately, not about love, but about the ghosts residing in the spaces amid love.

Are there any books that you put off because of the hype and later read and loved?