Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A Convergence of Birds - Jonathan Safran Foer (ed)

Read: Januray 2009

There are few authors who inspire such breathless excitement in me as Jonathan Safran Foer. And even though his contribution to this intriguing book is only 19 pages long, it is worth buying for this alone. ‘If the Aging Magician Should Begin to Believe’ is quite possibly his most supremely written work. It is a masterful work of atmospheric storytelling told in rich vivid prose and packed with spectacularly evocative metaphor. It begins with this sentence, and the quality never wanes from there on.

“If the ageing magician should admire the ribs of his hungry gondolier, it’s only because they look like wands.”

My problem with reviewing Jonathan Safran Foer’s work is that I do not possess the requisite number of superlatives. There are only so many times I can use words like ‘spectacular,’ and ‘mesmeric.’ So just go and read this book instead. Alongside Foer's story there are 21 other fascinating contributions to this compendium, all creative responses to the life and work of collector and assemblage artist Joseph Cornell. Foer started writing to famous poets and writers, asking them to create original works based on their responses to the work of Joseph Cornell when he was still a college student and long before Everything is Illuminated was published. So to see so many of the leading lights of American letters included here is amazing. Where else can you find Joyce Carol Oates, Barry Lopez, Siri Hustvedt and others all included within the covers of a single book alongside 28 full colour illustrations of one of the most intriguing artists of the twentieth century?

8 out of 10

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