Bart’s review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

You should tell us what you really think! I think I'll read all of your 1-star choices. :)


message 2: by Lori (new)

Lori wow. Talk about really reading into things.
I thought the child narrator was necessary to his story, if not unique.

I would have to warn you to stay away from other great novels like Dead Fathers Club, Book of Lost Things, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime..... all wonderful novels with children as the narrator.

Perhaps you just have a thing against kids? Or simply against kids who come across as more intellegent than you? Or kids who have issues and arent shy about their attempts to overcome them?

Perhaps you had a hard childhood? Were you an only child with an absent mother/father? Or maybe you were the middle child, who received no attention?

I personally loved this novel. While I havent read Everything Is Illuminated, thus not having anything to compare it to, which I dont make a habit of anyway, since it is its own body of work, I have to give the author credit for taking a very serious subject matter.... 9/11... and creating a touching, memorable, bittersweet story of a son in search of a fathers secret, a son who is trying to say goodbye in his own special way.


message 3: by Andrew (new)

Andrew not only does this book reveal that his first was weaker than originally thought, foer indulges in the same narrative strategy to express intensity in both books: the endless unpunctuated run on. i mean, really? and if you fell for it in the first book, you bought it in the second one too? no wonder i have no problem with liquefying purple crayons and injecting them under my skin for grape-flavored blister blasts.




message 4: by Molly (new)

Molly Levine as a teacher of up to 60 nine-year-olds a week i can assure you children come in all shapes, sizes and levels of intelligence. i was very comfortable imagining a nine-year-old speaking the way oskar spoke, as i have known a few to be quite like him. you don't have to shun stories told through the eyes of children to sound sophistocated. it sort of makes you sound like you've never met a smart, sensitive child in your life, which is a shame. children are worth listening to. just as you (obviously) believe you and your opinions need to be heard.





message 5: by David (new)

David Ruekberg I'm sorry you had such a lousy childhood. If you're interested, I can recommend an excellent therapist. He will help you accept your hurt inner child and get beyond your acrid cynicism.

If you want a bad child narrator, try Edgar Sawtelle. At least in this book I wasn't really expected to believe that such a child as Oskar really exists. He's an act of imagination, and the book is an act of imagination, reminiscent of Halperin's Winter's Tale, but with a purpose. In addition, it works on emotions without making them sentimental. Foer doesn't "depict" the tragedy of 9/11 through Oskar's eyes. He depicts its aftermath; he also depicts the tragedy of the Allied firebombing of Dresden through the eyes of adults who were young adults at the time. (Did you read those chapters?) Ultimately, then, the book is not only about 9/11 but how, in Oskar's words, "everything that's born has to die, which means our lives are like skyscrapers" (245). Oddly enough, when Foer has his main narrator say that what might be construed as a "profound" comment, it's note quite "couch[ed] in college-level language," unless our college experiences were vastly different. More than that, it's about how "Here is the point of everything I have been trying to tell you, Oskar...." I won't spoil it for others, but it's on page 314 of the hardback (end of the second to last chapter). Sorry if that message makes you feel queasy. Unfortunately, it really is the point of everything. If you've lost someone and never done that, you'll understand.

Chapter 2 of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is narrated in the 3rd person, but the consciousness of Stephen Daedalus in that chapter cannot be said to be less sophisticated than Oskar Schell. Okay, maybe Stephen's 12.

No, this book is not War and Peace. It's not bad though.
But, of course, that's just this reader's opinion.


message 6: by David (new)

David Ruekberg Sorry, I was in a bad mood last night. I mean what I said about the book, but I apologize for the personal attack.


message 7: by Michael (new)

Michael Great review. Thorough criticism with your reasons for your argument. I don't completely agree with you, but I do agree there was something a little too "easy" about this book, a little too facile in its approach and the pathos it tried to evoke. But there was also a real imagination at work in it, too. I'm glad I read it, and I am giving it 4 stars.


message 8: by x (new)

x x Druek wrote: "If you want a bad child narrator, try Edgar Sawtelle. At least in this book I wasn't really expected to believe that such a child as Oskar really exists. He's an act of imagination, and the book is an act of imagination, reminiscent of Halperin's Winter's Tale, but with a purpose. In addition, it works on emotions without making them sentimental. Foer doesn't "depict" the tragedy of 9/11 through Oskar's eyes. He depicts its aftermath; he also depicts the tragedy of the Allied firebombing of Dresden through the eyes of adults who were young adults at the time. (Did you read those chapters?) Ultimately, then, the book is not only about 9/11 but how, in Oskar's words, "everything that's born has to die, which means our lives are like skyscrapers" (245). Oddly enough, when Foer has his main narrator say that what might be construed as a "profound" comment, it's note quite "couch[ed:] in college-level language," unless our college experiences were vastly different. More than that, it's about how "Here is the point of everything I have been trying to tell you, Oskar...." I won't spoil it for others, but it's on page 314 of the hardback (end of the second to last chapter). Sorry if that message makes you feel queasy. Unfortunately, it really is the point of everything. If you've lost someone and never done that, you'll understand."

Oh yeah, a nine year old who makes up metaphorical inventions that might've saved his father and future others from skyscrapper-related deaths. That's a typical nine year old. Oskar is completely transparent as a character, not to mention (if he were REAL) an absolute sociopath. He's an author's tool. Foer used 9/11 as a paycheck, which is disgusting to me, personally. Oh and I've lost my mother, grandfather, and numberous others.



message 9: by David (new)

David Ruekberg Devon --

Well, yeah, maybe. It would be interesting if you'd add a little support to your opinions. "Paycheck" "sociopath," "author's tool." Perhaps. Provocative statements. Can you say more to put some ground under them?


message 10: by x (new)

x x I'm here to write an opinion, not write a paper. I do have a life...hmmm....thats funny.


message 11: by Jon (new)

Jon Great review, Bart.


message 12: by Alison (new)

Alison Devon wrote: "Druek wrote: "If you want a bad child narrator, try Edgar Sawtelle. At least in this book I wasn't really expected to believe that such a child as Oskar really exists. He's an act of imagination, a..."

What's a skyscrapper?


message 13: by Don (new)

Don Pynchon is joyless? What a horrible misreading. Pynchon is difficult, yes, but he is also fun and hilarious!


message 14: by Rachel (last edited Jan 17, 2011 06:19PM) (new)

Rachel Michael wrote: "Great review. Thorough criticism with your reasons for your argument. I don't completely agree with you, but I do agree there was something a little too "easy" about this book, a little too facile in its approach and the pathos it tried to evoke. But there was also a real imagination at work in it, too. I'm glad I read it, and I am giving it 4 stars. "

I agree with Michael from the beginning to the end, every sentence/phrase! In fact, I even gave the book the same rating! 4 stars. Brilliant review, Bart! (And thanks for reading my mind, Michael!)


 Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ But sometimes, I’ve learned, large things must be tiny. That’s how Foer’s narrator would say it. And he’d be wrong, of course. But then, that’s why we don’t publish books written by nine-year-olds

yay. i like this part. i think a nine years old boy can't do that


message 16: by Bart (new)

Bart Don wrote: "Pynchon is joyless? What a horrible misreading. Pynchon is difficult, yes, but he is also fun and hilarious!"

I'm game, Don. Please give me the page number in either V or Gravity's Rainbow that caused you to experience joy and hilarity, as a reader, and I'll give that page another try. Thanks.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

★ Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ ★ wrote: "But sometimes, I’ve learned, large things must be tiny. That’s how Foer’s narrator would say it. And he’d be wrong, of course. But then, that’s why we don’t publish books written by nine-year-olds
..."

So you doubt kids? I find that really offensive, and it's as if you don't think they are capable of thinking.


message 18: by Alana (new)

Alana If Foer is a one-trick pony I'll see his show again and again and again. I hope he writes another novel similar to his first two.

Thank goodness not all authors write like Tolstoy.


message 19: by James (new)

James I would suggest reading Mason & Dixon or Crying Lot 49. The former is full of hilarity. Right at the beginning, when the group of prospecting cartographers meanders through London and talks to a dog, a particularly philosophical pup, is ridiculously funny. There are many other zany and wacky things that happen, many dialogues that will make you laugh. But I still sort of agree with your statement, that in some way his art is 'joyless.' Great review by the way.


message 20: by Sean (new)

Sean Dunne I think a 9 year old has whole heap of things to say about war.


message 21: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Rios I hated this book. It was just stupid and I didn't like Oskar at all. He was a spoiled coddled brat and his parents did him no favors with the way they were raising him.


message 22: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Having read War and Peace and a chunk of this book, I heartily agree with you. The thing that bothered me the most was how uninteresting the nine-year-old was. He doesn't feel things, and it comes off as cerebral.


message 23: by Tracey-Lee (new)

Tracey-Lee Personally I enjoyed the book and while I don't necessarily agree with your review, I must say, it was very well written, interesting and thoughtful.

Sometimes we learn more from those we disagree with than those who march to our own drum beats.

As a mother of 4 children, 7, 9, 12 & 15 I wanted to mention that Oskar is actually an eminently believable character. Children can be so clear at times, their minds seem utterly unsullied with the detritus we accumulate as we age. My own children have, at rare moments, stopped my breath and heart with some of the pure and profound observations they make...comments, observations, or opinions that are made with such aplomb; it leaves their father and i with our mouthes hanging open, shaking our heads in shock and disbelief.

i wouldn't have believed this of children myself until I was 30 and we had one of our own. I sometimes wonder if we aren't born as little Buddhas but slowly walk backwards as we age. :-).

You look very young and if I were to guess, I'd say you haven't perhaps had children yet...if you one day have a child, I feel certain you will be as mystified and in awe of them as we often find ourselves. I think you may find your overall impressions of kids may change, especially as your child will likely have a daddy that reads to him or her. I'm so keen I'm actually homeschooling my youngest two. :-)

Kids can be profound... Then again my youngest once told me he needed to drink more " skin milk" because he had a bad scrape and needed more skin.

I look forward to checking out your reading lists. May I suggest Nicola Barker
and Leon Rooke. Also Confederacy of Dunces, if you haven't already read it, a few of my favourites...I'm also a great fan of Tolstoy.

Cheers.


message 24: by Michelle (new)

Michelle As the second child in a family of eleven kids (also homeschooled!), I'm going to have to disagree with you, Tracey-Lee: sometimes kids can be brilliant, but Oskar didn't demonstrate borderline rude honesty or insightful misunderstanding of the world. He reasoned like a fairly short-sighted adult, the way kid-adults in poorly-written family films do, and his vocabulary was full of big words accurately used.

And yes, I've constantly learned the most about what I believe when I've had to defend it.

Michelle


message 25: by Tracey-Lee (last edited Oct 10, 2011 12:40PM) (new)

Tracey-Lee I guess that's why I love this forum so much. We can have such varying opinions and can each find our own personal literary jewels, and piles of dung. :-) I have spent time with children similar to Oskar, and for me his character was believable and fresh. I cared about him and enjoyed his more "profound" moments. I really enjoyed spending time with this character.

The funny thing is that my difficulty with this book was centered far more around his grandparents. I personally found Grandma and Grandpa polluted the storyline with idiocy. I suppose they were meant to be deep and thought provoking...frankly, I found them extremely annoying and incredibly superfluous. :-)


message 26: by Underwhelmed (new)

Underwhelmed Bart, you're a writer so write a book and create a narrator voice that you feel may be missing in modern writing. I promise you I'll buy it. I loved Extremely Loud because I read it at a very vulnerable time in my life (and because I lived in NY during 9/11). You are correct, Foer uses all kinds of tricks to tell his story, but he uses them well. He should avoid (at all costs) using these same tricks in his future writings. Anyway, I don't think you're a cynic or that you need therapy (as some dramatic commentators accused), I just think you're a writer and you need to write your book--or finsh your book. I'll buy it!


message 27: by Anna (new)

Anna Samek I completely agree with your review.Thank you for writing it so eloquently.


message 28: by Jessica (new)

Jessica  Hilbun Schwartz YES. Thank you for arcticulating this so well. "Gimmickry" is exactly the word I was looking for to describe my feelings about this book.


message 29: by Molly (new)

Molly amen. thank you. too bad for me, i read the whole thing. he's talented, for sure, but i felt manipulated. i finished because i don't like to quit. maybe i shoulda.


message 30: by Yuliya (new)

Yuliya I'm with you, Bart! I just didn't get it!


message 31: by Yuliya (new)

Yuliya And I loved Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - so, don't liking this book desn't mean you have to stay away from others, by my personal opinion


message 32: by Claudette (new)

Claudette I couldn't finish it. LIfe is too short. There are lots of books out there begging to be read.


message 33: by Christina (new)

Christina Nip Can't agree more!


message 34: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Thank you. Very well put and on some levels made me feel so much better that I'm not alone in my feelings about this book.


message 35: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Just - no! We read different books. You seem to have read a book primarily about war, I read a book primarily about family. Funny that.


message 36: by John (new)

John I think you're spot on with the "gimmicky" nature of a lot of the book's pictures and the hand-written corrections and such which are... interesting but yes definitely unnecessary and gimmicky.

But then the review compares it to Tolstoy's depiction of the Napoleonic Wars and asking, "Why didn't Tolstoy write his story from the eyes of a child?" Which is paramount to saying, "I didn't like this book, why didn't Foer write a different one?"

That's quite a ridiculous question to ask and tantamount to saying how children are affected by tragedy is unimportant. To which I would say, that's very condescending. If anything, children can be affected probably THE MOST because those formative years can be filled with tragedy whereas adults might be able to draw happiness from other sources in their life. So why didn't Foer write a different book? Simple: Because this was the story he wanted to tell.


message 37: by Shane (new)

Shane I loved this book. It really moved me and I'm not entirely sure why. I don't understand why so much hate and anger about the gimmicky stuff in the book. It's like hating a song because it has a catchy chorus. I think it's also unfair to say he was exploiting a tragic event. 9/11 had a profound affect on everybody. Watching those towers fall from thousands of miles away on the news was the only time I could truly say I was speechless. If you're a writer, how could you not write about it. Thanks for the review.


message 38: by Shane (new)

Shane I loved this book. It really moved me and I'm not entirely sure why. I don't understand why so much hate and anger about the gimmicky stuff in the book. It's like hating a song because it has a catchy chorus. I think it's also unfair to say he was exploiting a tragic event. 9/11 had a profound affect on everybody. Watching those towers fall from thousands of miles away on the news was the only time I could truly say I was speechless. If you're a writer, how could you not write about it. Thanks for the review.


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