Friday, April 13, 2007

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Heavy Boots.

I liked this book, but I wanted to like it so much more than I actually did. I’ve had several good friends recommend it and was really excited, so maybe my feelings are more of a case of over-expectation, so although I quite enjoyed the read I was left feeling a bit low.

Jonathan Safran Foer is young and amazingly talented. The sky is the limit for him. He has such a natural knack for humor and this book is laugh out loud in parts. He is full of absolute wit and creativity, but I was left feeling that his cleverness may have come back to bite him on a certain level. I don’t know how to explain what I feel about it other than to say I think I saw glimpses of what this book could have meant to me, which made it all that much harder when I didn’t get it. I wanted to close the last page and weep for Oskar and be exhilarated about a revelation. I wanted epiphanies and heartbreak. But ultimately I closed the last page and found myself wondering why I was left wanting those things. I don’t even really have a clear answer.

I’ve definitely considered the fact that the shortcoming likely lies within myself, or my mood, or the attention (or lack of) that I paid. So there is that. But it could be that these characters' idiosyncrasies and their curious eclecticisms took away from the actual human drama they were going through. There are so many things I enjoyed about this book, so I don’t want to be a sad sack. I am really, really glad I read it. I found a lot of eye opening ideas, loved the quest, and found joy in the off-the-wall creativity, obviously. I guess I just wanted a little bit more (which I know about).


James said...

Oh shoot, that is too bad you didn't like this book. I really loved it. I thought Oskar was such a funny kid with an awesome imagination. I need to read the end again, I can't quite remember how it all wraps up.

Les M. Blake said...


You're the first who recommended the book to me. I hope I didn't make it sound like I didn't like it, because I did...just not as much as I wanted to.

Oskar is a fantastic character, and very funny. I liked the idea that he was mourning his dad in a very unique way and he expected everyone around him to mourn the same way and with just as much passion, when in reality this book teaches that despair is relative to the person and we can't always tell them how to deal with tragedy. It became apparent towards as the book continues that his Mom had gone through hell too, and she is just dealing with it in ways different than Oskar.

My main difficulty with the book lied with the storyline of the Grandparents. Although it was super creative and funny and bizzare, a lot of it didn't make sense or ring true to me. I wanted to see them find redemption in each other, wanted the Grandpa to find his voice again, or come to some sort of destination with his life, but instead they wind up living in an airport, still not talking, and neither here nor their....which maybe is another way of dealing with grief (or misdealing with it). That is what had me feeling low. I wanted more connect between the generations of this family when it seemed to all end up in disconnect.

Like I said, I enjoyed the read, but wanted something different with certain story lines. Thats okay though. I'm still really glad I read it.

ali said...

It took me a while but I figured out how to leave a comment. Cool new interface. Layout. Whatever you call it.

I was sorry to hear you didn't LOVE this book. I daresay I'm the one who recommended it to James. JSF totally does it for me. I tell everyone to read it.

But my real love is in his first novel. Have you tried "Everything is Illuminated"? I think that book changed the way books are written. Or at least the way I read them. I could be giving him too much credit, but like I said, his form/voice/imagination/sentiment resonates with me.

Totally unrelated, but have you read anything by Jonathan Lethem? I just got his new book, but it's my virgin voyage with him.

Les M. Blake said...

Christy and I saw the movie adaptation of "Everything is Illuminated" when it came out and love love loved it. I picked up the book and read through the first few pages and was extremely entertained, but haven't made an effort to read the book (mainly because it becomes difficult for me to do the movie first book second). I'll probably end up reading it, along with anything else he comes out with from here on.

I've heard mixed reviews of his wife's book The History of Love...that one comes highly recommended by you as well? Should I pick it up?