The trauma of Jonathan Safran Foer’s childhood

Suzie Mackenzie in The Guardian:

Foerap128Jonathan Safran Foer was eight, almost nine, on August 12 1985, when his child world was blown apart. It had been, he says, “a very, very happy childhood. A united family, middle-class urban/suburban. I was close to my two brothers; nobody I knew had died. Just normal people.” His mother, Esther, drove her middle son to Murch elementary school in northwest Washington that day, though she has no recollection of this now. “She is convinced she didn’t drive,” says Foer. There he joined 13 other kids, including his best friend Stewart Ugelow, for a two-week summer camp. “Stewart and I were like twins, always together. We even looked alike.”

On arrival, the children were organised into small groups. In his group were Stewart, a boy named Dedrick Howell and a girl, Puja Malholtra. “We were an interesting cross-section of the city. One black, one Indian and two Jewish white kids.” It was day one of camp and the planned astronomy class had been cancelled – the teacher had called in ill – and was to be replaced with a chemistry class in which they would make sparklers. Potassium perchlorate, sulphur, charcoal, iron powder, aluminium powder were provided.

Foer was returning from the bathroom when the explosion happened at his table.

More here.