Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Reading Journal: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005)
One of the most sentimental novels I've read in a long time, and damned if Foer didn't, with all his MFA tricks, get away with it. Wearing his post-modern sensibilties on his sleeve, the many "touching bits" in the book come by way of letters, photos, diaries, notebooks and - most interestingly - edits to other documents that fill in the details as we follow our child protagonist, Oskar Schell, in his attempt to find out what a key left behind by his father - killed in the Twin Towers - will open. The premise is a fantastic one: from the moment that Oskar does the math to estimate how many locks per person are generated in New York city, I was hooked on his precocious voice, even - especially? - when the overall rendering of the child stretched credibility. And though I found that overall it was a wandering and by times stylistically jarring read, there is a love that shines through the work and illuminates everything in it, save for the title: though he overuses the adverbs "extremely" and "incredibly" throughout the book, I never picked up what exactly was loud and/or close; nonetheless, it's an important, thought-provoking and emotionally rewarding yarn that will be discussed for years to come. A worthwhile challenge.