Book Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer

“Life is scarier than death”
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (p. 322)

Well, if that weren’t the most honest statement I’ve read this year….

Upon picking up this novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, I don’t know what I expected. A friend had told me that it was “Fabulous”, so I guess I expected it to be just that….FABULOUS. FROM THE ONSET. IMMEDIATELY. AND IT WASN’T.

Now, let me rewind by saying, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a beautiful novel. Foer is creative in his approach and writing style. The subject matter, however cumbersome, is emotionally charged (especially for me, having lived in New York thru what’s arguably the worst day in American history – September 11, 2001.) The story is emotional, evocative and sincere. While “about” 9-11 it is truly about grief and the road back to emotional stability.

His words are true. The characters are well developed…….And still – I didn’t love it until the last 20 pages. In a nutshell, I found it extremely hard and incredibly frustrating to read.

I’ve told you all before, I like a book that allows me to transport into the pages…..the kind that turns me from Rachael into which ever character is on the page before me.

Foer is almost TOO colloquial in style – taking on the personality of the characters as he wrote. While this may seem like a good thing – the kind that allows you to fully embrace the character – he also “spoke” as a different character in each chapter, so the book lacked continuity. It lacked a certain element of “story telling” that I typically enjoy. (If anyone’s read ROOM by Emma Donoghue, you’ll find that the writing is similar.)

With that in mind, I will tell you what happened next – I cried. I literally sat at the front desk of my office, where I’m mindlessly answering phones while the receptionist does the mail and eats her lunch, and cried.

I found that, towards the end, I could relate with Oskar. Like him, I constantly seek meaning. I have tried endlessly to make meaning of some pretty horrific life events: the death of close friends; the loss of my Gammy; my parents’ divorce; job loss; breakups – all of it. And, regardless of if I ever found the meaning, I learned that by questioning, inventing, exploring that I truly live.

Rachael’s Grade:

Writing: C

Character Development: A

Plot: A

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3 Responses to Book Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer

  1. Mike says:

    Ah, the writing was frustrating for me at some chapters. Especially those chapters where he only writes in one paragraph continuously. It was hard to read and understand, but in the end this book is unique, emotional, and very honest in every characters. Have you seen the film adaptation? It’s very heart-wrenching.

    Thanks for the link.

  2. lnisbet says:

    I’ve been reluctant to read this one after seeing the movie (which had me in tears) – I find that most novels are a bit tainted for me after I’ve watched the film-version first. But I like your review! I’m very intrigued about the writing style. I didn’t like ‘Room’ very much but I’m intrigued by your comparison. Maybe I should add this one to my list!

  3. David Murphy says:

    For a refreshing review of Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, click on http://davidmurph.wordpress.com/book-reviews/

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