Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
By Jonathan Safran Foer
Houghton Mifflin, 2005
A fast-paced novel for all ages with an adult slant, Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is well worth the read. Two stories—one about a father, and one about a son—are exposed in this novel through the eyes of young Oskar Schell. Oskar lost his father in the World Trade Center during the events of 9/11, and this novel explores his grief and life in the years following his loss.
Oskar takes the reader through Manhattan on a quest with unpredicable conversations and vague solutions. A parallel story of war and tragedy is interwoven through Oskar’s story for an “all too neat” big reveal toward the end of the book.
At the end of this novel there are specific questions which beg to be asked and answered by the reader regarding the current state of world affairs, war, tragedy, and conflict.
What is most surprising about this novel is that it is as much a piece of modern art as it is a piece of modern literature. The book has specific visual elements that engage the reader’s senses beyond the mere words on paper including, but not exclusive to, a series of blank pages.
On a personal note, this reader found that reading the novel allowed for a safe emotional space to ask herself about the events of 9/11, the current state of world affairs, and the loss of innocence which rusults from acts of violence.