Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Pub: 2005; Houghton Miffin
Genre: Literary Fiction, Grief, 9/11
The Purchasing Story
Oh gracious where in the world do I begin? This book has been collecting mad dust as it sat on my bookshelves for at least three years. It was a whimsical purchase for me, back when it was bought. Unlike most whimsical purchases, I remember the circumstances of this ole book clearly. I was in the store, perused the books and my eyes focused in on this one. I'd never heard of Foer, but had seen the film Everything is Illuminated back in the day and lurrved it. I glanced at the back of the book and was a wee bit skeptical of the plot [a key? searching the city for clues? uhhh...] but then after skimming the pages I couldn't help but be drawn into the format of it. By the time I got home and finished whatever books were in my stack, I quickly forgot about the book's intrigue. Instead, I focused in on the oddity of the plot. A key? Searching the city for clues? Uhhhh...
Then the movie came out and I love me some Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Also, Di is not a big film watcher at all BUT this film caught her attention and she really wanted to see it. I have this thing about books to movies. I'm [partially] okay with watching movies based on books if I don't own the book. But I'm head over jose (as in noway) to watching a movie first when I own the damn book. Absurdities aside I cracked its spine.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close **is** a process. There are unidentified points of view, but unlike other books who use this technique [I hate it!], here it is mastered and viable to the story. A story that meanders from past to present, and at times the future that's really the past. And the themes! Oh the glorious themes of life and death; war and love; eternity and moments.
Oskar is grief-stricken after the death of his father in the world trade center and if someone tries to sum up the book, maybe they will say it's about Oskar dealing with this debilitating death. But it's not really about how one deals with death as much as how grief enters our soul and takes home there. And how if we're lucky, we can eventually evict Grief; but if we're desolate, Grief evicts Hope and Redemption.
Let me tell you what. There were so many beautiful and amazing things about this book. Guys! It had me on a massive emotional train. Like I said above (?) there are three different tales all interwoven into this one huge epic tell of survival. The grandparents, ohemgee! Grandpa doesn't speak anymore since losing his livelihood (soon to be wife, his child in her womb, and his parents) in the horrific tragedy of Dresden. And while reading I had this moment of clarity and I know it's probably only something that would occur to me...but the description of the bombing. Wow! It gave me shivers. And then it was like, I never really think about the OTHER casualties of World War II. I mean, c'mon, immediately when someone says WWII I think the concentration camps. Is it just me? And then I felt pity because it seems as though all of those other victims of the war kinda got screwed on their own empathy. This book creates that empathy for me. It makes me want to seek out the other stories, the ones that I've ignored. I often say: I'm over wwii lit; enough with the concentration camps; no mas! But seriously?! What do I really know about Dresden? This small sleepy town in Germany that got demolished? Or D-Day? Or any of that.
For the mere fact that this book caused me to SEE other stories, it's forever going to be a win.
And then there's Oskar. Is there ever a kid that you wouldn't want to hang out with? You know how I talked about the key and the search for the lock and that whole storyline just throwing me off a little. Like, how could that even make sense? And it doesn't. But it does! Because if you read it and get to know the father you immediately GET the glorious relationship that Oskar and him have. Do not let the plot dissuade you!
Like I said, the reason why I picked up the book to FINALLY read it was because Di had the inclination to see the movie. After speaking to friends and reading reviews I was a wee bit concerned. Everyone said that it essentially blew...like a big blue whale of water..blew. *ugh* Isn't that the worse. So, I walked into the film already thinking that I'm gonna hate this darn thing and it's going to ruin the whole experience. Ummm...can I make a confession? I cried. Like, seriously cried. Like I had that kinda cry where I didn't want everyone in the theatre to freakin' know I'm sobbing so I'm holding it in, but then that creates this awful pressure headache and Yikes! it was one of those kinda films. And I'm watching it and totally get that maybe everyone isn't getting out the same things I'm getting out of it because I read the book! I know their background stories. I know why gramps is acting this way. I know why Oskar needs him there. I know what they missed and tried to condense but still managed to make it awesome and a smidgeon of the partial truth which is the best that one can hope for when watching a film adaptation. Right? It's kinda like...you experience this great moment in your life...and then you try to tell your bestie about it. And you gush and you try to get them to understand this great moment, but it's already gone and they kinda get it. But you totally do because you were there. I was THERE int is story. So, yay. It worked for me. I sobbed.