Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close would be a tough book not to love. I laughed a lot reading it, and I cried some too. Foer creates characters so three dimensional that they feel like old friends, and for Melanie and I at least, come up in conversation as if they really were.
Set in New York City, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close revolves around Oscar Schell, an adorable nine year old boy who lost his father in the 9/11 attacks. The story explores Oscar's search for understanding and meaning in his father's death, and through that reminds the reader of all that there is to be joyful for in life. In Oscar's suffering is revealed the purity and joy of childhood.
The parallel story is that of Oscar's father's father's life, and while the two work well together and come together in a nifty way toward the end of the book, I found the sections about the grandfather painful to read. Maybe because I loved reading from Oscar's perspective so much that I missed it when I was away from it, but during one particularly long and arduous grandfather passage, I put the book down for almost a month and might not have picked it back up if it weren't for Melanie's urgings. Some of the passages about the grandfather's youth are quite beautiful though, and the parallel story reveals something profound about the transformations that occur between having one's life to live to having lived one's life.
A very pleasant read, and plenty of meaning about joy, sorrow, grief, family and aging. I will definitely be picking up Foer's other novel Everything is Illuminated soon.