Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The first Jonathan Safran Foer book was Everything is Illuminated.  It was a tough book to read.  Lots of different characters.  Each chapter had a different characters point of view.  It took almost half the book to get a handle on everyone.  I finished it.  Impressive first novel.  Smart author to say the least. 

His second book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I read on a plane this week.  What a book.  This novel is seen through the eyes of a 9 year old boy, Oskar,  who lost his father on 9/11.  He goes through a 2 year healing process by trying to find out information on a key that his father left behind.  Oskar, is one smart cookie.  The book is very clever and imaginative.  I really loved it.

What struck me about reading this book was how the horrific day of 9/11 still sits inside me.  We were very lucky that no one close to us was lost that horrible day but we literally lived through it,  as we live downtown.  It was a day that I can recall in a heartbeat.  I can relive it in a moments notice and tears come to my eyes.  I didn’t realize how much until as I was reading this book and living through Oskars emotional roller coaster of losing his father, I found myself going back there.  I literally wept through sections of the book.  Oskar touched my heart. 

Jonathan Safran Foer is a very talented writer.  The way he writes is obviously how his mind works.  Incredibly bright and perceptive.  His attachment, just like his first novel, to the Holocaust and WWII has obviously had a major impact on his life. The story circles around intertwining characters and places.  A very original book. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Amy Feld

    Greetings from Homer, Alaska. I shared your emotional response to this book. I found myself literally weeping, too, which doesn’t happen very often. And I shared your realization that 9/11 “still sits inside” us all, in your insightful words. I think this book is one of the first times I’ve allowed myself to remember and feel the deep sorrow of that day. I loved this book. Do you think Everything is Illuminated is as good? It’s on my To Read Now pile, but I’m a bit hesitant since Extremely Loud was so wonderful.

  2. Ben Barren

    Im reading Loud/Close now and his wife’s book ‘History of Love’ at same time, and interesting to see how similar, yet different and utterly whole their language is.

    ‘Everything is Illuminated’ changed my life, second to only ‘Infinite Jest’ by David Foster Wallace a few years back. (with ‘The Corrections’ by Franzen running third and Zadie Smith’ ‘White Tooth’ coming 4th)

    For someone so young I pray Safran Foer and his wife Nicole Krauss continue to push language, yet focus on the story, and tell personal stories while not relying on being too ‘earnest’ or ‘ironic’. And be prepared to fail. (wow, maybe writing and venture capital aren’t that different !)

    The high-brow critics (esp academics who run English departments at brand name unis) have not reviewed Foer’s book nearly as well as the 2nd one (whose second album is a killer anyway), they dont like the 9yr old main character perspective/believability (seen as a technique for the writer distancing his more – standard – autobiographical first novel), but by the same token I have not seen a bad review : 3.5/5 avg for Loud/Close vs 4.5/5 for Illuminated. I personally found Illuminated so good it would be very hard for Foer to top with Loud/Close : not that relative scores mean much as Ive been so impressed with how positive everyone has been about this book and how it touched them, although as an Australian, it is also interesting to compare how NY Downtowners and Alaskan retreaters perceive/feel it VS those “not” affected by 9/11. But as we have seen and as Amy pointed out, LOSS is universal : Australia lost hundreds of people in Bali Bombings (as well as Tsunami) and London has now experienced similar outcomes as part of the “Coalition of the Willing” (‘the personal is political’ here, again, as always !)

    Keep the work coming new writers. And Foer and Krauss : Start a blog – every newspaper article I have read about you is as fascinating as your books – We need a daily publish of your thoughts !


  3. Amy Feld

    Jonathan Foer does have an official website at http://www.jonathansafranfoer.com/ which is interesting to look at, but not very personal (yet?) —