Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
“No spoilers here, but we will say that the book–which includes a number of photographs and some eccentric typography–ends with what is undoubtedly the most beautiful and heartbreaking flip book in all of literature.” –Booklist
Oskar Schell is unlike any nine-year-old you will ever meet. Bright and quirky, it is safe to say he is a little weird. He makes jewelry, he speaks French, he plays the tambourine, he is a Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, vegan, historian and correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. When his father passes away in the September 11th attacks, Oskar is left depressed until he finds a mysterious envelope with a key, titled, “Black” in his father’s closet. Filled with inspiration and hope, Oskar embarks on an adventure to find the lock of the key. During his journey, he travels through the five boroughs of New York, where he meets interesting characters with their own survival stories. What begins as an innocent, heartfelt testimonial of loyalty to his father, ends up as a heartbreakingly beautiful climax, which leads to his father’s grave.
Although the plot seems rather thin, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is far quirkier than you believe. Reflecting Oskar’s intellectualism, Foer’s writing is experimental. With several back stories, including the Hiroshima and Dresden bombing, as well as others’ stories of trauma, Foer’s writing is intuitive: it lacks punctuation and shifts narrative. It contains eccentric, illegible typography (where the words are mounted on top of each other) blank pages, pages with one liners, sweet monologs, illustrations and scribbles. Although it may be perceived as gimmicky, it is highly stylistic and unique.
Without a doubt, Foer’s delicate style adds to the sentimentality of the novel. Make no reservations here, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will make the coldest heart shed a tear. Foer has created a prose on the exploration of grief and healing. As a result of the highly sensitive topic and young narrator, there are no mild feelings procured here, you will feel a gut-wrenching beautiful ache or a bitter taste in your mouth. Note, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Closenavigates two extremes of the spectrum, between beautiful sadness and manipulation.