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Jonathan Safran Foer: On Distance and Silence

Backpacking with a Book

Tragedy primes one for humor. 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.

I spent the morning reading  a six-page feature about Jonathan Safran Foer. He is not in my reading list since I find young writers either intellectually hot or hot, and it may cause prejudice (in favor of the writer) in reading the works.

New York Times’ default page in my bookmark is its Books section, which I personally find ostentatious—a fleeting confession there.

If you—yes, you, reader—check it at this very moment (which I’m definite has already passed), the fourth article is “The Cerebral Set Picks Up a Paddle” with a  photo of an eyeglassy man holding a ping pong paddle and with a yellow ball suspended in the air. Before anything else, I noticed the boy. I had no slightest idea it was Foer. Of course, it is every writer’s dream—or every artist’s— to be renowned for his works, not for anything else. I know he is part of the New Yorker’s 20 under 40 and has a book Everything Is Illuminated. That’s it. Nothing else.

After reading the ping pong article, I started reading the link to his name. I’m glad I did. He is intellectually hot and hot. 😉 I will not, however, read his works. Not yet.

It is all about distance, silence, the fear of failure.

Every relationship in the book is built around silence and distance.”  Extremely loud and incredibly close is what no two people are to one another.

Time heals all wounds. But what if time is the wound?—JSF

“Both the Holocaust and 9/11 were events that demanded retellings,” Foer said when asked about his preoccupation with seminal tragedies. ”The accepted versions didn’t make sense for me. I always write out of a need to read something, rather than a need to write something. With 9/11, in particular, I needed to read something that wasn’t politicized or commercialized, something with no message, something human.”

Jona | Backpacking with a Book

Hi, I'm Jona! I write stories and poetry and take a lot of photos, which I'm too lazy to upload. If you want to receive some photos that I don't share here on the blog, please leave your email here. I'm crazy about cats too. Feel free to browse through BWAB, and I would love it if you say hi! For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at backpackingwithabook@gmail.com For more stories about BWAB, check here. Connect with us through

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