Extremely loud and incredibly close

12Apr09

Isn’t that the coolest name for a book? Jonathan Safran Foer’s first book is called ‘Everything is illuminated’ which is an even better title for a book (haven’t read it- but will sometime).

I read this book as it’s March’s virtual book group book (Penny’s review here as well as links to other member’s reviews) – and yes I’m currently several weeks late. I haven’t read everyone’s review but I know a few people didn’t really like the book…hard to get into, different narrators, precocious child as main narrator.

I loved the book! I thought it was just great, clever, hard to read and confronting, but great. Oskar Schell is precocious and at times a little hard to take, but I thought the story was really about his grief at losing his father who was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11.  There is the search for all the people named ‘Black’ in New York, as Oskar seeks clues about his father and his death. There are also the other stories of his grandmother and grandfather, and the bombing of Dresden and Hiroshima – that are both really hard to read.

“heavy boots” – Oskar’s description for a heavy heart .

 I really enjoyed the graphic nature of the book. It’s really quite unusual to include in a work of adult fiction – photos, different type, editing marks. They all enhance the story. Foer describes the bombing of Dresden complete with red editing marks. The last 15 pages of the book are the images of the ‘falling man‘ backwards so that it looks like he is ascending, instead of descending. Oskar says that if he could have reversed the order “we would have been safe” (last words in the book).

The story book back a lot of memories and feelings about 9/11. Although I’ve seen the Falling Man documentary and the United 93 movie I think this is the first fiction I’ve read that has 9/11 as its main thread.

It is not the easiest book to read, but I really admire JSF and think he is quite brilliant. You can read the first chapter of this book, available from Jonathan Safron Foer’s website.

The documentary on the Falling Man is on YouTube! Interesting Falling man story in Esquire.

That falling man image just stays with you….

Kx

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One Response to “Extremely loud and incredibly close”

  1. 1 Mel

    Oh I’m so pleased that you liked the book. I didn’t although I enjoyed it at first. About halfway through I just lost the plot really. But I loved the title. I love it when I don’t like a book and someone else does. It explains the world a bit – we”re all different and that’s fine!


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