Saturday, November 7, 2009
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
I had my first ever book club meeting today. I can't think of very many things better than eating and talking about books. Well, reading is one of the things I can think of.
Our first pick was Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. For some reason (and I should learn my lesson, because this happens over and over again in life) I didn't think I would really like it, but I couldn't have been more wrong. The story follows Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old New Yorker whose father was killed in the World Trade Centre attack. Oskar is ridiculously intelligent, literal, awkward, anxious, thoughtful - among the most neurotic fictional characters, I've ever encountered, child or otherwise. The book jumps between characters and times, language and writing styles, and makes use of images. I wasn't sure these literary techniques would serve any purpose but novelty, but there are so many beautiful moments, and every word (and picture) helps define the emotions and the characters so precisely, that I ended up cherishing the little things I thought would annoy me (including Oskar).
This book is about grief. It's about the fact that every single person is grieving something, and that we carry that around with us forever. There was some discussion of whether this was a depressing book; for me it absolutely wasn't. It was a sad book sometimes, yes. But I felt hopeful, realizing that we have all lost people and things, but we are still able to make new connections, and still able to love - not just able, but we can't help it.
8.6/10. (Yes, that is my way of giving it an A.)
Side note: In the book, Oskar finds a mysterious key in an envelope marked only with the word "Black." He decides to speak to everyone in New York with the last name of Black, to see if someone can help him figure out what the key is for. In this adorable video, Jonathan Safran Foer sets out to recreate his protagonist's quest. Sort of.