Friday, March 10, 2006


Saying I was hesitant to read Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredible Close would be kind. I was dreading it. I work in publishing at Houghton Mifflin, which publishes Foer and I got the book for free. But I couldn't stand his Everything is Illuminated. Like an albatross circling over head, I knew I needed to read Extremely Loud if I wanted to swear off Foer forever. Good thing I did. I wouldn't say he won me over, but I really enjoyed the novel. Foer certainly grew as a writer and storyteller with his second book. He got a lot of attention early on with his debut novel, but there was no sophomore slump. With a keen ability to write about the loss of a loved one, Foer made his narrator, 8 year old Oskar Schnell, a well rounded, odd, guide.

Showing signs of autism (as a fellow reader noted,) Oskar, wearing all white, all the time, finds a key that he thinks belonged to his father who was killed on 9/11. The rest of the novel follows Oskar as he tracks down all the people in the New York City area with the last name of Black. In his travels to Queens and Brooklyn, Oskar wants to find the lock to match the key so he can find some answer. Like many child narrators, Oskar is often too insightful, too cynical and too smart for his own good. Still, Foer doesn't let Oskar's countless quirks weigh the story down. Instead, in Oskar, we have a young boy, trying to deal with the murder of a loved one the only way he knows how.

Now reading:
Philip Roth The Plot Against America

On deck:
Dashiell Hammett The Thin Man

Next purchase:
David MitchellCloud Atlas

Listening to:
Deathcab for Cutie Crooked Teeth

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

'fellow reader' appreciates the credit line.

piksea said...

I did 'Extremely Loud...' on audio and I really enjoyed it. When I listened to 'The History of Love' I found that it reminded me of 'Extremely Loud' in a lot of ways. Just last week I saw on someone's blog that Krauss and Safran Foer are married.

M. Barresi said...

Krauss and Foer are married. I loved History of Love but couldnt' stand Everything is Illuminated. Krauss is the more talented writer of the pair. She didn't try any trickery or gimmicks like Foer is so known for. She relies more on her strength as a gifted writer and succeeds in ways Foer can't. My only problem is that Everything and History are too similar in topic and themes. I could go on about this for awhile, so I'll stop now...