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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Nine year old Oskar Schell's father has died in the World Trade Center on September 11th. Oskar has a really hard time accepting his death and is desperate to understand his dad's last minutes. When he discovers a mysterious key in his father's closet he sets out on a quest to discover what it unlocks.

I've had a copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel by Jonathan Safran Foer on my shelves for years.  I got my copy from Paperback Swap shortly after I joined. I had read that it was by the husband of author Nicole Krauss, who wrote The History of Love , which I just adored. (Sadly for you, I read it pre-blogging, but you can see the lovely TRISH's picture of it up there in my header!) I had also heard that it had a similar writing style, something unique that made it not a straightforward plot, as with The History of Love. I was sure I'd love it. So my copy came and it sat there a couple years, and then Trish (same Trish) posted this review and I added it to my "Ok, now you GOTTA read it (mental) pile." And then some more time passed. And then we moved. And then we moved again. And then I started to read it and I just wasn't hooked. I read about half and frankly, Oskar annoyed me. His mother, who is very very hands off even when I felt she shouldn't be, bugged me. His grandparents have all this crazy, well, crazy. The book got buried under a pile of sewing while I read other things.

I decided I needed to finish it. I needed to see how it all ended and how it came together in such a way that left Trish so in love with the book. I took it with me one day to pick up the Pirate from school. I typically get to read about two pages while waiting in line (some days, this is all the reading I do.) Well. Something got my attention and I was hooked. I spent all my spare reading time on this one for the next few days, and finally when I had about 30 pages to go I just sat down and read to the end. And, I was a bit underwhelmed. In the end, it was more about Oskar than about his quest and I really wanted the quest to end differently, ya know?

Oskar is certainly very well defined. He has a distinct voice and personality. The quirkiness of the book- the pictures, the markings, the different fonts- fit in seamlessly and perfectly. The part about the bombing of Dresden is harrowing (That link is even more so. Gah.) The writing is terrific. But for me, I think I've decided I prefer plot to introspection. (Sorry, Trish.)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer
Houghton Mifflin Company
326 pages

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  1. I am SO glad I'm not the only person who thought this book was mediocre. Took me about a thousand years to finish it.

  2. Safran Foer is my literary arch nemesis (with John Updike and Jonathan Franzen). I tried reading Everything is Illuminated and gagged on the pretention. I will likely try this one one day, but I admit I'm going in with low expectations. lol

  3. I'm a little leery, but still want to give the book a chance. Sorry you didn't love it.

  4. I read Everything is Illuminated because so many people adored it and was seriously less than impressed. Didn't like the writing style and found the story even worse. The thing that made me sad was the story could have been great and poignant instead of a jumbled pretenious mess. Needless to say Safran Foer is not high of my list of must reads!

  5. I put this aside after 50 pages... not in a huge hurry to get back to it.

  6. HA! You don't need to apologize to me. As I've mentioned over and over, I don't know who I would recommend this book to because it doesn't scream "you'll love me!"

    I do feel bad that it didn't work for you. I do enjoy introspection and don't need for things to entirely come together. Booooo. ;)

    if it helps, I had a tough time getting into this one as well. I put it down for several months before actually finishing it.

  7. I have never really thought this author was for me...


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