This weeks' New York Times features a really great profile of Jonathan Safran Foer, whose second novel is coming out soon. I knew Foer in high school (he, his younger brother and I all had the same advisor, and we shared an interest in music, if I recall) and it's always great to watch a hometown boy make good, even if that hometown is an elite private high school in Washington, D.C.
The profile may be a bit over the top in its praise (Foer, for example, is not the first novelist to bridge the gap between odd type setting, pictures, illustrations and words, in novels Carol Maso did it a long time ago with the almost-never-read The Art Lover and Chris Ware did it in comic books with Jimmy Corrigan) but that is beside the point.
The point, for me, is this quote:
''Tragedy primes one for humor,'' Foer said. ''And humor primes one for tragedy. They amplify each other. As a writer, I am trying to express those things that are most scary to me, because I am alone with them. Why do I write? It's not that I want people to think I am smart, or even that I am a good writer. I write because I want to end my loneliness. Books make people less alone. That, before and after everything else, is what books do. They show us that conversations are possible across distances.''
This is, in many ways, what I have been saying about theater in general and volume of smoke in particular in the high schools and colleges that Clay and I have been teaching it. It is quite odd to open the paper and have another artist say the same thing.
Read the article here.