Colin McKay Miller's Reviews > Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
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Apr 03, 2008

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bookshelves: novels, book-club-picks
Read in August, 2007

I would highly advise not reading Nicole Krauss' History of Love and (her husband) Jonathon Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close within a few months of one another. Whatever one you read first will taint the second one (though I'll argue that Foer's is the better of the two). Since I'll be starting with this same paragraph on both reviews, you might want to read them a few months apart too. That way you can truly enjoy every morsel of critical text.

Foer's novel centers around Oskar Schell, a young boy whose father was killed in the World Trade Center. Schell finds a key in his father's closet, a key that does not open any lock in the apartment, and so he sets out into New York City to find the place to which it belongs. The concept it compelling and the writing is often poignant and beautiful, but those don't come without a willing suspension of disbelief. Every story requires that, no matter how well crafted--that grace where you just let the author tell the story without sentence stopping skepticism--but Foer's novel requires a larger dose.

Oskar Schell is far too often adult-like or child-like when the author needs him to be. Foer doesn't play fairly and at times it comes off as manipulative. Though the ending is a sweet dissolution, there's a bitter aftertaste when you realize that none of the characters change in the novel. Not one. As a result, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is held back from greatness.

As a husband and wife writing force, Foer and Krauss need to learn to stay away from one another during the writing process, but if they follow that advice then they'll have a divorce to write about. For now, we have these two books to represent that need for creative separation. Three stars.
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K.D. Absolutely Thanks for the info that the two are husband and wife. I did not know that! :) I will be reading them soon!


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