26 December 2006

Nomadic with the Truth

A Representation of an Experience Part 1.

I have a daily commute of three or four hours. So, I am eating books on the train.

I recently read Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated, winner of the Guardian First Book Award in 2002.

Half of the book is meant to be written by the author who goes to the Ukraine to find the woman who saved his Grandfather from the Nazis.

The other half of the book is meant to be written by Alex, the young Ukrainian translator who guides Jonathan on the trip.

Their stories are inter-twined and they share their perspectives on each other's writings.

Jonathan is writing a fictional account of the story of his relatives and Alex is writing a story about his and Jonathan's trip through the Ukraine.

I love a passage written by Alex to Jonathan.

It might relate to De Zengotita's idea of representations?

Alex asks Jonathan in a letter, "We are being very nomadic with the truth, yes? The both of us? Do you think it is acceptable when we are writing about things that occurred?"

Alex says that if the answer is "no" then he wants to know why Jonathan is writing in such in a fictional, almost fantasy-like manner about his Grandfather and the town they visited.

And he wants to know why they have to leave out parts. It seems, to him, untruthful to make these choices.

Alex says that if the answer to the question is "yes" then this creates another question.

If they feel it's OK to be "such nomads with the truth," then Alex wants to know why don't they just go ahead and make the story even better than real life?

Alex gives examples of ways to improve the story and says they could make it "perfect and beautiful, and funny, and usefully sad, as you say."

He concludes with, "I do not think that there are any limits to how excellent we could make life seem." p. 179 - 180

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