|Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer
Our group had an extremely varied and incredibly wide range of reactions to this book. Several book club members found Oskar, Foer’s troubled young main character, lovable and compelling. Others were more interested in the story of tragedy passed down through generations. There was a very small overlap between these two groups, with few people who rated the book positively overall.
Apparently Oskar is a character one either likes or dislikes. The same might be true for Foer’s style of writing here. Many found the grandparents’ stories distracting, seeming to intrude from some other book altogether. Some of us initially enjoyed the author’s cleverness, but even so, found it tiresome before long. DS suggested that the gimmicky writing might be a way to convey Oskar’s break from reality, the madness he experiences with the loss of this father. But she recommends Daniel Tammet’s Born on a Blue Day as a much more successful (nonfiction) exploration of an unusually gifted yet impaired young mind. CD and I found ourselves thinking back fondly to Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.
Some readers were distressed by the way Foer writes about (and illustrates) the events of September 11, 2001. JUS questioned whether the book was really about 9/11 – she felt it was just a theatrical setting for these intellectualized characters to inhabit. This may be one of the very things the others were objecting to.
JSI, RN and JOS did approve of the book: they appreciated the tale of loss and tragedy written with such imagination and humor. CT fell in love with Oskar, the little guy with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Others wondered about Oskar’s epic search for the lock and whether it had any convincing meaning for us. Many of us had really “heavy boots” by the time we got to the last page. As CD said, a great novel will be written about September 11th, but we are still waiting for it.
|Jonathan Safran Foer|
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