Friday, June 20, 2008

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

So... I don't know exactly how I feel about this book. I enjoyed it, as in the story was intriguing. But there were so many things that bothered me.
The story mainly follows 9 year-old Oskar, whose father died on 9/11/01. Oskar finds a key in his dad's closet and quests to find the corresponding lock somewhere in NYC. Obviously this herculean task is impossible, but that is a part of both the novel and Foer's appeal. I enjoyed Everything is Illuminated in high school and this book is completely in line with Foer's writing style and voice. Oskar's story is first person, but the novel's other voices (his grandmother and estranged grandfather) are epistolary.
At times, it was difficult to read the book because it really did make me meditate a lot on the terrorist attacks. The child's perspective softened it all a bit, but my own renewed thoughts on the situation's violence and horror were lightweight wrenching.
I disliked the severe weirdness of the grandparents. They were survivors from the bombings in Dresden in World War II. If I am supposed to perceive them as people who suffered a great loss and are so severely, debilitatingly hurt from the event that their ability to function rationally is damaged, then what does that say for Oskar, his mother, and the others emotionally scarred by September 11th? The grandparents' overly OCD and constantly painful relationship came off as unrealistic to me, that eighty year-olds would act in ways that were so insane. It seemed like a cover-up for their sanity almost. Even Oskar's impossible preciousness didn't bother me, but the grandparents made me so confused with their issues or whatever.
I was not upset with the ending, which I was concerned about, but I didn't find it particularly interesting.

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