Tuesday, March 27, 2012

{read: Another look at Sept.11's collateral damage} Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I started to read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close several years ago when it came out and just couldn't get into it, but I picked it up again after some of my friends said how much they liked it. This time, I loved Oskar and all his inventions. His voice is refreshingly honest as he struggles to grieve for his father, who died in the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. As he says, that would give anyone "heavy boots" and people should be more worried if he wasn't sad. Oskar was home when the towers fell and had just listened to his father's voicemail messages when his father called back one last time - but he didn't answer. This haunts him, as does the exact way his father died. He just wants to know so he can stop inventing different ways he died. In a quest to bring his father closer, he embarks upon a quest to find out who owns a key found in an envelope marked "Black" in a vase in his father's closet and what the key opens.

The storytelling style, which switches between Oskar and his grandparents, reminds me of The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, also published in 2005. (I didn't realize it when I was reading Foer, but he's married to Krauss.) Although I was confused at first about who the adult narrator was (and then there were two of them), it began to make sense as the book went along.

I found the final pages of the book, with the image of the body lifting back up through the sky into the tower, very powerful. The first time I came across the image of the tower, I didn't know what it was and flipped the page impatiently. When I got to the end and realized what it was, I was ashamed I hadn't recognized it.

I haven't seen the movie version and I'm not sure if I want to. I like Oskar the way he is in the book, and I don't want him to be overwritten by the movie.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005)
My rating: 5 stars

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