Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Jonathan Safran Foer

I heard mixed things about this book, so I approached it with what turned out to be an appropriate amount of expectation. It may also help that the themes of loss and the profound sense of absence in the aftermath of loss are things that have been on my mind lately.

While I haven’t read much literature centered around September 11th, most of what I can remember reading at the moment falls into the category of vague association: the sparest amount of words used to convey the point, almost with a little nudge and a head nod, that yes, that’s what I’m talking about. This book is perhaps the most direct work of fiction to take on the setting of that emotionally and politically charged event that I’ve encountered thus far — at the very least, I’m sure to remember it clearly when thinking about 9/11 literature. There are clearer references to specific events of the day and the aftermath.

I felt that Foer did a great job of developing his story around the potential minefields, though I wonder how much of its success depends on the reader having their own clear memories of the day (if only via television media) to respond to those references with a level of emotional attachment. Though, I also wonder about the longevity of novels when perhaps the ongoing relevance and accessibility of a story isn’t really much of a concern to most people. Mostly I just enjoy that — like Everything is Illuminated — Foer is adept at drawing parallels, developing multiple story lines that influence each other nicely. His use of photographs is a little odd, but perhaps I’m just not used to that kind of illustration in a novel. It just didn’t seem entirely necessary and largely inconsistent to boot.

For someone only a year older than me, I am impressed with the scope of his stories thus far. He certainly has a depth in his vision impressive for his age.

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