Carly's Reviews > Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
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's review
Apr 23, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012-book-list
Read in April, 2012

I don't know how to rate this novel. The part of me that reads purely for entertainment wants to give it a high rating. It did move me. The emotional tension is tight and pretty well crafted throughout.

But the technique, I feel, was lacking. The pictures and the other demonstrative pieces of technique like the small fonts to illustrate the grandfather running out of space to write on... no one needs these. We are not dumb, we do not need actual visual representations of these things, we can imagine them, they add nothing to the story but frustration. I was reading on a Kindle and the small font could not be magnified, so reading that chapter was a pain.

I found the Grandparents' story grating at times. That whole Nothing and Something chapter was a bit much for me. It didn't feel real or even hyperreal. It would have made a good short story, maybe.

The use of the child narrator always feels a bit weak to me, because it can be an excuse for the author to write whatever he wants. And how convenient that this child author is also an empathetic genius who can think like an adult at times and yet retain a sweet naivety at others.

Foer did not get the two stories to connect in any way that I can understand and what disappointed me most of all is that the key quest just petered out. We read about all of these interesting encounters but they led nowhere at all. Which left me wondering why the writer chose to do it. The only answer I could come up with was that he ran out of ideas and could not find a way to make the quest interesting so he just let it die out. Or perhaps he was trying to make a statement about reality, that it never really ties up neatly. Who knows.

I do think Foer is highly succesful at writing about sadness and sustaining that sadness in the reader. The book did make a big impact on me for that reason. His talents are strong. I was moved and entertained by the book, although frustrated by the end. If he can get his technique together his next book should be something big.

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