Book Review: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Posted November 9, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close


is a paperback edition on April 4, 2006 and has 326 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.
four-stars

This is a fictional look from one child’s perspective after his father was killed in the bombings at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

It’s a metaphor for all the families who lost a loved one. The horror of 9/11 in particular, and the disasters that befall any family in general.

In 2009, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close won the Luisterboek Award and the
Prix des libraires du Québec for Lauréats hors Québec in 2007.

My Take

This was so incredibly sad; I cried and cried and cried and… I’m still not sure…oh, I don’t know if I liked it or hated it. Oskar had such a great dad. And, I’m crying again just thinking about this.

Oskar and his dad had such terrific rituals they enjoyed together; they were amazing. They spent time with each other. Thomas challenged his son, questioned and encouraged him. I loved it.

Then came 9/11. And Oskar’s dad died.

It was the phone messages that really hit home for me.

As for Oskar himself, I found myself laughing out loud at his constantly active mind. He has the most amazing imagination and the most horrible fears. A combination that causes him to “invent” all sorts of gadgets and hopes, dreams and wishes. He wants everyone around him to be safe, to be happy, to be protected.

I absolutely adored how Foer got inside the mind of this nine-year-old. His thoughts, dreams, most of all his perceptions of what is happening around him. I liked how Foer used the photographs and illustrations in here as well. It certainly fit in with the oddity of this novel!

Oskar’s loss is not the only one in this family. There’s the secondary story about his grandma’s loss in World War II in the bombing of Dresden. Her loss when she learned she was pregnant with Oskar’s dad, Thomas.

It was truly irritating that Foer included this past history about the grandparents as it was only in bits and pieces. They’re both such odd ducks. Grandma and her Nothing and Something spaces. Thomas, Senior, and his animals and inability to speak. His sculpture. Why did he even bother to see her, let alone marry her?

Nor did I adore the stream of conscious writing with no breaks, no indication as to whose point-of-view I was reading. It took awhile into each new section before I could determine if I was reading about Oskar, grandma, Anna, or grandfather. It frustrated me, confused me…

…and perhaps that was the point. It certainly emphasized Oksar’s constant thought processing. It may have been meant to show us how unchanging human worries are.

All the loose ends that Foer left drove me nuts. What happened to Mr. Black from 6A? Why did Thomas (senior) not speak? What happened the second time he “left”? Where did the need for Nothing come from? What happened to the jewelry store after Thomas left/Thomas died?

The Cover and Title

I LOVE the cover. But then I’m a sucker for fooling around with words, making them fit a shape. And fitting the title, the author’s name, and a quick tagline inside this hand is so appropriate, bringing to mind Thomas Schell, Senior, and his YES / NO.

I haven’t a clue as to what inspired the title. Perhaps the bombing of the Twin Towers was Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. It could be a reference to, or include, the bombing of Dresden which affected so many. It could be Oskar’s fears…

four-stars

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