February 1, 2008

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer

I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close after reading very positive reviews of it by Kristy and Bethany. And, because of their reviews, it's harder for me to say that I didn't really care for this book.

But there it is. It just didn't do it for me.

It was fine. I didn't hate it. But I did count down every CD I put in (only three more CDs to go! only one more! Only two more tracks! Done!) and that's not exactly a good sign. Whenever I listen to a book on CD I wonder if I would have liked it more or less if I'd read a print version.

The book is about Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old kid with too many brain cells for his own good. His dad, whom he adores, died in the World Trade Center in 9/11. A while after his death, Oskar accidentally breaks a vase in his dad's closet and finds, in the vase, an envelope with a key. The envelope has the word "Black" on it and, through a series of investigations, Oskar decides that "Black" must be a last name and so he embarks on a journey to visit every Black in New York City to see if they know about the key.

At the same time, we hear narration from Oskar's grandfather who is mute (and also abandoned his wife and unborn son (Oskar's dad) decades earlier) and Oskar's grandmother. Their stories were far less interesting to me and, even though I often found Oskar annoying, I was always relieved when the story returned to him.

One thing that made this book difficult for me was how uneven it was - parts of it really were hysterically funny or unbelievably moving. But then there would be pages and pages that just felt so pointless, that dragged on, that had no redeeming qualities. A lot of reviewers on amazon mentioned they found the book confusing, but I didn't find it that way. Even on CD, it was a pretty straight-forward plot (even if you didn't know exactly what waas going to happen, it wasn't tricky).

It's a book I wanted to like. But I just couldn't.


  1. I love this book, but I think it's definitely one that needs to be read in print. The visual element--the way Foer plays with text and image--is a huge part of the experience.

  2. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it as much as I did. I really like quirky books and understand completely when others might not feel the same way about them.


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