Julie's Reviews > Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
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Sep 27, 08

bookshelves: read-since-august-2006, read-in-2008
Read in September, 2008

There are novels that succeed because of the risks they take and novels that succeed despite them. I think this is a good example of the latter. There are gimmicks here--pages with single lines, letters that become an unreadable mash as if a page were stuck in a printer, circled text, odd photographs, a too-old, too-young narrator, someone who can't speak doing sign language to someone who can't see, etc. Each of these gimmicks left me feeling pushed away, deliberately distanced from the story. It was like watching a movie and having someone shove his face in front of yours ever fifteen minutes and shouting "This is fake! This is fake!"

But like an old movie with dated special effects and silly costumes, this book has an ability to force you to discard the things you need to overlook. If you understand its limitations and take what you can, I think you'll find it an effective and moving novel about people trying to connect with the world and each other.

The frustrating part is, of course, that Foer doesn't have the excuse of dated special effects and silly costumes that are evident only after fifty years of improvement in film making. Instead of his excesses allowing him to tell a bigger story by breaking the bonds of pure reality and interjecting all the what-ifs in the world, his excesses weight down the story and drag everything to a screeching halt.

Still worth a read.
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