Sunday, December 26, 2010

By the fig and the zeitoun; by Mount Sinai; and this city of security...

This was written in Frankfurt airport. Due to the internet being full of rubbish there, I could only publish it on the site later. As this entry is with respect to a dream of mine, I have a dream - that one day, travellers will be able to use the internet in Frankfurt airport. Amen.

On my flight from the USA's Boston to Germany's Frankfurt, I reread Zeitoun by Dave Eggers in its entirety. I have never read anything by him before, and he has now become my idol. I want to do what he did with Zeitoun; it's my biggest dream. 

What a beautiful book! What I love most about it is Egger's style of storytelling. It has great emotion, but the words don't necessarily shove you in one direction. It sounds like someone has described the facts, and the facts speak for themselves. 

I can never be Eggers because I am not him. However, his writing in Zeitoun opened my eyes to a new direction I could take my writing. If I want to write memoirs, or write biographies, I might want to take some inspiration from Eggers and his approach. I know it is hard for me to separate myself from writing, and sometimes I like injecting myself into the narration, but Egger's style has taught me that sometimes words do all the work. I want my words to work more like his, but still be true to who I am.

I am very impressed and fascinated with Eggers' fountain of research. He interviewed so many different people and gives us rich data to process. I wonder how his interviews with Kathy and Abdulrahman went, how they were conducted. He must have asked great questions to allow such great information to pour out. I can feel that he picked up on important subtleties in each person's character - Zeitoun's stubbornness, Kathy's fiery spirit, etc. I wonder how his editing went, too - there are so many anecdotes within the writing that add layers of intensity and a breadth of knowledge about the people involved. How can one possibly choose which ones work best? He did an amazing job.

Eggers is obviously a journalist, one can see it in his style, but that did not make the story dry by any means. In fact, he allowed the heart of the story to beat within Zeitoun's pages. I admire Eggers so much right now for this. His writing is subtle and extremely effective. He didn't need to use fancy flashing lights and colours; as I said before: his words did it all. 

When I read a book twice, the first time is usually enjoyable (unless its really bad) and it is actually the second time that really allows me to give an opinion. Either the book shows its flaws, or it becomes even better and shows complexities I did not notice before. Zeitoun was the latter, and more. The second time I read it, I felt the presence of the people Eggers wrote about. It was like we were acquaintances before, but now, we were close friends. I knew Kathy, Abdulrahman, their children, Ahmed, Todd, Yuko…I was even more connected. I cried more on the plane than I did reading it in the sanctity of my Massachusetts room. My emotions towards the characters intensified.

When I get to Riyadh, I am going to shove Zeitoun into my Mom's face and ask her to read it. It's an amazing book, and I know she'll like it. I would love everyone to read it, to feel the devastation, horror, and love that Eggers placed within his words; the emotions that were dominating the story of Zeitoun and his family.  People need to read and understand as much as they can about what happened. I think it's incredibly important.

I have another, more personal use for Zeitoun. From now on, when people ask me what I dream of doing, I'm going to say: "I want to write memoirs, or biographies. Have you ever read Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers? I want to do what he did there. You should read it. It's brilliant."


  1. Now I want to read it :) I will try to find it here

  2. It is really worth reading. I can only hope that one day I'll be able to write something that well!