Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh's Reviews > Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
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Oct 18, 12

bookshelves: dark, 2012, favs-recent, wit, war, lit-usa, reviewed, wacko-realistic-fiction
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Hooked by Title and Cover - Brilliant
Recommended for: Anyone I can talk into reading it
Read from September 30 to October 08, 2012

According to E. Wilson 'No two persons ever read the same book.' I love an author that allows a story to just unfold; that leaves me to draw my own conclusions. I love that it wasn’t just about 9-11 but also war torn Dresden and Hiroshima. Well my spin is this is probably the most powerful anti-war book I’ve ever read.
The stream of consciousness writing style is the perfect choice. It’s lyrical and appropriate, just go with it. It’s not depressing; in fact parts of it are really funny. Then again, I’d be lying if I didn’t warn you - it will punch you in the gut. Oskar is such a little charmer (particularly with the ladies), a heartbreaking combination of pure innocence & genius; a compulsive inventor gifted with that enviable ability to think outside the box. He dreams up everything from portable pockets and birdseed shirts to biodegradable cars & skyscrapers with roots; yet never imagines any kind of weapon, never fantasizes revenge. He loses the most wonderful father during 9-11 yet somehow remains himself. A survivor that emerges wounded but not shattered, perhaps by choosing to transfer all that bottled up love for his lost father to others.
It’s not the perfect novel, what is? I’ll nit-pick, I got lost with the 1st person narrative switching - the grandparents were over-the-top bizarre. Trivial complaints, if it bugs you just skim over those parts, there’s plenty of magic.

It’s strange but I finished this book feeling cautiously hopeful. I like to imagine 9-11 could have spawned an Oskar. A free-thinking genius bound & determined to invent a world without war – heavy boots and all.

memorable quotes:
"She laughed enough to migrate an entire flock of birds. That was how she said yes”
“I knew him, Horatio; a jerk of infinite stupidity, a most excellent masturbator in the second-floor boys’ bathroom – I have proof.”
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Quotes Florence (Lefty) Liked

Jonathan Safran Foer
“We need enormous pockets, pockets big enough for our families and our friends, and even the people who aren't on our lists, people we've never met but still want to protect. We need pockets for boroughs and for cities, a pocket that could hold the universe.”
Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


Reading Progress

10/01/2012 page 25
11.0% "Chose it for the cover & the title, both hooked me. This is really funny! Quits Jujits class because "I'm a pacifist, I don't think it's right to destroy people's privates". He strives to find things that 'make his boots lighter' Not sure what that means, but I like it..."
10/03/2012 page 75
34.0% "I can look inside an anguished childs mind. 'that secret was a hole in the middle of me that every happy thing fell into' or 'did anyone see an ambulance and wonder if it was me inside'"

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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message 1: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael So well said to me. Enough to swallow my doubts. Now how can I nominate it for favored review? You cover a lot of ground in a lively way in a short space, pegging it succinctly an anti-war book that explores the creative mind of a grieving kid. That sounds like a worthy focus to me. In fact it resembles two of my favorites for such a mash-up. Berin Wild and Empire of the Sun, the first Elly Welt's story of a Jewish boy surviving the war in a genetics laboratory and the latter Ballard's semi-autobiographical account of a boy running free in a Japanese internment camp, both with a hopeful drift like Foer.


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Thanks so much for your kind comments Michael! I had doubts about this book as well, I really do believe you would appreciate it. I've been sorta obsessing on it for the last 2 weeks. Wake up, go to sleep thinking about it. Funny how writing a review helps put your thoughts in order - it's like a purging. Anyway, I thought it was really great.
Couldn't find Berlin Wild, I'll read Empire of the Sun - and only because it's got a hopeful drift. I need that, I'm a bit of an emotional coward.


message 3: by Angela (new) - added it

Angela Great review, Florence. This is another book that I bought ages ago, but haven't read yet. Your review has motivated me to find it among the great piles of unread books that I have here. Thank you:)


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Angela wrote: "Great review, Florence. This is another book that I bought ages ago, but haven't read yet. Your review has motivated me to find it among the great piles of unread books that I have here. Thank you:)"

Thankyou Angela, that's very kind of you to say so. I've got quite the pile of to reads myself. I find is so much easier to pick a 'light' book, but when I sit down with one like this, I rarely regret it.


message 5: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Eloquently written, my friend :)


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Kelly wrote: "Eloquently written, my friend :)"

Thanks darlin :)


Gary  the Bookworm I just read some negative reviews of this. I was reassured by your positive review. How's the collection going? (Earrings for Petra...)


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Gary wrote: "I just read some negative reviews of this. I was reassured by your positive review. How's the collection going? (Earrings for Petra...)"

Ignore the negatives & trust your instincts:) Read your review - this is the only book I've read on 9-11 so I bow to your expertise - glad to know I lucked out and chose one of the best. Horrible to be revisiting this with the bombing at the Boston Marathon.
Not alot of takers on the collection for Petra. Your contribution perhaps lost in the mail?


Gary  the Bookworm Loonies have a way of disappearing in the post office, hence the expression "going Postal"! I don't usually modify my response to a book based on other opinions. I think it enhances the experience to read lots of different viewpoints though.


message 10: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Florence, I like your review too. I'm glad you also enjoyed this book. It's not the MOST powerful anti-war book I've read though. I can think of a few others. Have you ever read Johnny Got His Gun?


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh No I haven't. I'm an emotional coward when it comes to reading about the horrors of war but you're dead right, there are a ton of books that describe it in detail, I've read a few. For me this was so powerful because it gave me hope. That an "Oskar" our future generation would not fixate on revenge,that helps me believe in the possibility of a world without war. So technically it's the most hopeful anti-war book I've read, but that doesn't read very well, does it LOL! Thanks Lisa, you got me thinking:)


message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan JGHG does not describe war in great detail, but is narrated from the mind of a man who's been grievously injured during a war, WWI if I'm remembering correctly.


message 13: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan I loved Oskar too, Florence.


message 14: by Arnie (new) - added it

Arnie Thank you for posting that extremely well written and incisive review. Loved it.


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Arnie wrote: "Thank you for posting that extremely well written and incisive review. Loved it."

Wow, what a lovely compliment - and appreciated Arnie. Review is straight from the heart, haven't read a book that effected me this strongly in years.


message 16: by Arnie (new) - added it

Arnie Florence,
You must read his wife's book, The History of Love. Probably my favorite of the books I've read in the last couple of years.


message 17: by BrokenTune (last edited Jul 17, 2013 02:46PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

BrokenTune Florence, I loved your review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - so much more than the book itself.


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Ulrike wrote: "Florence, I loved your review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - so much more than the book itself."

Hah!! Good thing I started it diplomaticly with "No two persons ever read the same book" It is one of those love it or hate it novels. There were passages that drove me crazy, obviously I tuned out it's weaknesses & focused on it's strengths. Thanks Ulrike, lovely thing to say.


message 19: by Ivonne (last edited Jul 20, 2013 10:11AM) (new) - added it

Ivonne Rovira Once again, I need to add a book or nudge a book further up on the EGTRL (Ever-Growing To-Read List), thanks to you! Please keep pointing us to books we shouldn't live without.


message 20: by Ivonne (new) - added it

Ivonne Rovira Should one read Everything Is Illuminated first?


Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh Ivonne wrote: "Should one read Everything Is Illuminated first?"

I didn't, don't think they're connected. Hope you do like it, it is one of those books that divide the ranks - not my preferred choice of writing at all, think the style called stream of consciousness, something like that... I went into it with an open mind - thought I'd give it a shot - and ended up just loving it. It does have it's weaknesses Ivonne, no getting around it. But closed it thinking, wow, this is a book I'll always remember...


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