Title: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Genre: Adult Fiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: Mariner Books
Published: April 4, 2006
Page Amount: 326 pages
Blurb From Goodreads: Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father’s closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.
Why Read: One of my favorite book blogs, which I’m sure everyone has read far too much about, Book Riot, wrote a post a month or so ago about how there are an inordinate amount of readers who claim to read books which they haven’t. The reasons vary of course, but ultimately the question was: why? Reflecting on that, I realized that I’m very much a criminal in that regard – I can’t count the amount of books people ask me if I’ve read and my automatic answer is “Of course”. After thinking about that, I thought to myself – why not just read the books? And that’s what led me to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a book I had claimed to read, refused to see the movie – and finally just read it.
Review: Honestly, I did not expect to enjoy this. The amount of griping on Jonathan Safran Foer on the Internet is ridiculous and it can be difficult to separate the grievances about the author from the actual book. But I had owned this book for almost a year and had refused to read it – so I sucked it up and read it.
I have complaints of course, actually more than usual. But that may be because it was such a strange reading experience – the words became close together, there were pages with only one sentence on them. It forced me to stop and look at the book for a second and wonder “Have a made a huge mistake?” or just “Did I get a bad copy?”.
But I continued on, it was under 400 pages, my excuse was – it will take me two day at the most. Now, sitting here in Starbucks drinking my London Fog, it did only take me two days – but it feels like years. The relationship I’ve developed with this book based on silly reviews and rants online compounded with the actual reading experience could not have been interactive.
After I managed to get ahold of what Foer was doing with his strange style and not-normal formatting, I did, in spite of my original thoughts, enjoy it. It was exciting, sad, and thought-provoking.
Books about grief are especially moving for me, personal experience and all. And although the book was all about grief, I don’t think I really realized that until the end. The confusion, the short thoughts that slice through your thoughts like the sharp end of a sword, and the muddled running – it’s all part of coming to terms with the undeniable truth of non-existence. The best example I can think of was particularly two pages nearer to the end of the book where the words got so close together that you couldn’t read the text. My first reaction: annoyed, I want to read this part too, Safran. But as I paused for a moment, my brain spoke the words “Words blurring together” and it seemed so clear. The words on the page were blurring together in grief, the tears that gather in our eyes as we finally do the one thing that we aren’t supposed to do and the result – it isn’t what we want either.
Although I certainly have my reservations, the message at the end of the book was clear. The end of the last two chapters will, I believe, stay with me for a long time, just like the sniffles and tears that escaped me as Grandma told Oskar that saying “I love you” never seems necessary, but it is.
Rating: 3.9/5 Stars
Review Coming Soon: Either something Shakespearean or…