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December 5th, 2011 / 4:55 pm
Contests

ToBS R1: hating on Jonathan Franzen vs. hating on Jonathan Safran Foer

[Matchup #16 in Tournament of Bookshit]

You meet a woman and wake up to her bookshelf:

• 30-50 copies of Elle

• 1984

• [something by Chuck Klosterman]

• Everything Is Illuminated

You say, “Okay,” to her while she sleeps.

You work in a cubicle for 10 hours. You drive home and open Facebook. She Facebook chats you a link. You click to a New York Times story on Jonathan Safran Foer. You think, “Played” and stare at his mole.

Your eyes move between excerpts of “Eating Animals” and a video ad for Transformers 2. You watch a Transformer destroy an aircraft carrier. You read, “…my writing teacher at Princeton was Joyce Carol Oates.” You close the Firefox tab and think “Dick” and “Maybe that’s unfair.”

You take “Everything Is Illuminated” and she says, “It’s really good, I promise.” You look at her and say, “Okay.” You open a beer and begin to read. You stop reading and pick up your dictionary. You try to look up “shtetl” and become distracted by other words. You finally read the entry for “shtetl” and sense you’re a terrible person. 
You remember a news story about black teenagers who went on a school trip to see Schindler’s List and screamed things like, “Damn! That’s cold!” whenever a Jew was shot.

You lean out of your car and picture Jonathan Safran Foer’s mole. You say, “Sausage, egg and cheese combo.” You picture his mole and think, “I know the factories are fucked up. What they do to the pigs. I know it.”

You read “Milk Comes From a Grieving Mother” on a bumper sticker. You reflexively make an argument for Fruit Loops. You realize the argument may require you to pronounce “anthropomorphism” at a local event featuring Jonathan Franzen/Lethem/Safran Foer. You imagine stuffing your mouth with Popeye’s and asking Jonathan Safran Foer long-winded, rhetorical questions. You picture a chicken engineered with no feathers, beak, feet or eyes, growing too fat for its cage.

You remember he wrote a book about children and 9/11 or something (you don’t remember). You imagine the book is about how 9/11 was carried out by 4-5 small children who were taught creative writing by Joyce Carol Oates at Princeton.

You put “Everything Is Illuminated” in a box of her things. You wait until she’s gone and leave the box on her doorstep.

- Timothy Willis Sanders

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WINNER:  hating on Jonathan Safran Foer

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