Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Story Hour: Foer on Heart Disease

S-A-TUR-DAY! It's Saturday Story Hour!

There is a (small) part of Fosco that resents the fantastic success of literary wunderkind Jonathan Safran Foer. I mean, this kid was born in 1977 and has already written two powerful novels (Fosco particularly recommends his 9/11 novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). Even more maddening, he has shown no evidence of writer's block or production anxiety or any of those other psychological impediments that haunt would-be writers of any stripe (including Fosco, alas). He seems to write effortlessly and that, in and of itself at his age, is a provocation.

His work, however, is so damn good that Fosco has a hard time remaining resentful. One of Fosco's favorite short stories is Foer's "A Primer for the Punctuation of Heart Disease," originally published in The New Yorker. The New Yorker version is available only to subscribers; however, fortuitously, the entire story appears in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 and can be read here, courtesy of Google Book Search.

What you'll notice immediately is that this story would be very difficult to transcribe (Fosco briefly considered it). Basically, Foer's narrator in the story invents a supplementary punctuation that can be used to express ideas and emotions that are unavailable in traditional English orthography. Foer's narrator demonstrates the appropriate usage of each of these marks as he describes the conversations within his family. To me, these conversations are absolutely heartbreaking. I hope that you find this story as moving as I do.

You can purchase these books by following the links:

Thank you for your consideration.

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Jill said...


FOSCO said...

I know.