Before I give my usual spoiler warning, let me just say that if you haven’t read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, I’d suggest you find yourself a copy and join in! At halfway through, it’s wonderful and, I suspect, will be great to discuss. I’d expected it to take me a while to get through, but when I sat down to read the first chapter, I ended up tearing through 85 pages without even realizing it. So good!
And now, the spoiler warning: if you haven’t read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and plan to, be warned that spoilers are fair game from here on out!
I’m loving Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close so far. It’s been on my shelf approximately forever, and I loved Everything is Illuminated (Foer’s earlier novel), so why has it taken me so long to pick up Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? No idea. Thank you, reading buddies, for prodding me into reading it! Some of the things I love:
- The way color, photos, and formatting oddities are interspersed throughout the book. For instance, how the marker testing pad at the art supply store is included, or how pages of Oskar’s grandfather’s written communications are interspersed with the story he’s writing out in his daybook. When I first flipped through my copy (which I got used), I thought someone had marked in it! (Check out page 208, if you have the hardcover version.)
- The fragility of every character, the poignant things they say and do, the pain they try to hide or justify.
- The Morse code jewelry Oskar made for his mother, encoding messages from his father his mother had never even heard into beads and string, fashioning them into gifts for his mother to wear so that without even knowing it, she’s wrapped in her husband’s last words.
- Oskar’s creative approach to swearing: “Succotash my cocker spaniel, you fudging crevasse-hole dipshiitake!” (p. 145)
- The amazing believability with which Foer crafts Oskar, this brilliant but sad little kid trying to cope with a world that’s falling apart.
- The way each character’s voice is unique, and the way all the stories gradually fill in pieces of the others.
I remember struggling just a bit with the narrative style in Everything is Illuminated and wasn’t sure what to expect with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but the latter isn’t presenting any problems for me. Foer’s style strikes me as being a step closer to stream of consciousness than a typical novel, but not so completely there as to be confusing. I find Oskar’s tangents to be both charming and illuminating.
I’m anxious to see where the search for the key’s lock will take Oskar, as well as what the rest of his grandparents’ stories are, but at the same time I’m not looking forward to the book’s end. I’m loving spending time with such wonderful characters. I’m trying to savor, to keep myself from rushing, but the story keeps pulling me along!
What are your thoughts on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close so far? Do you have favorite elements or characters? How do you like the narrative style?