Books I Loathed discussion

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Loathed Titles > I really hated "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

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message 1: by Meaghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:46PM) (new)

Meaghan (meggilyweggily) | 6 comments Okay, I know Jonathan Safran Foer is New York City's literary golden boy or something, and people keep talking about how courage and original Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was. I thought it was crap. It was pretentious and hard to follow and the author was deliberately weird for no reason at all. I think a lot of people who claim to like this book are trying to sound all smart or urbane.


message 2: by Susan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:46PM) (new)

Susan (Bookishtype202) Sorry, Meaghan, but I have to honestly say that I really loved this book. I read something else of his I didn't like, but this one was great. I love eccentric main characters and the weirdness didn't put me off at all. I think he pulled it off well. Believe me, I'm often the first one to complain about authors who try to be artsy and elaborate just for the sake of seeming artsy and elaborate, but I really did love this--it really stayed with me, and while it's definitely not for everyone, there is some worth in it for some readers. Just as you're going to hate this book no matter what, you have to allow that there are going to be people out there who have their own *legitimate* reasons for liking it. As much as I loathe The Yearling, even I have to admit that astonishingly enough, not everyone feels the same, and not even just because a teacher of theirs told them they should like it.


message 3: by Jess (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:46PM) (new)

Jess | 7 comments I also enjoyed this book, but on the other hand I couldn't read Everything is Illuminated. I was going to try again but instead I am trying to sell it on Ebay (along with Updike's Terrorist... now there is a book I never even want to look at again!)


message 4: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:50PM) (new)

Jessica I couldn't even get through the first 12 pages of Everything is Illuminated, so didn't even try this.


message 5: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:50PM) (new)

Mark I have to say, I liked "Everything is Illuminated." But I did think to myself, is there a trend among modern, younger writers that when they went to write about a horrific subject, such as a pogrom, they have to mask it first in surreal, humorous tales of urban Americans encountering a strange primitive world? The power of this book lies almost entirely in the historical tale he eventually tells, not the weird road trip with those oh so funny foreigners.

And by the way, if you want to see a better way of combining modern American angst with a world conflict plot, try (goodreads member) Michael Fitzgerald's "Radiant Days."


message 6: by Emily (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:50PM) (new)

Emily (emily_penrod) | 3 comments Mark, I agree that Foyer initially masked the tragedy of 9-11 (oops, you are talking about Everything is Illuminated, but the same applies for ELIC) by not directly referencing it at first and by telling humorous stories, but this is one of the things that I liked about the book. He dealt with this difficult subject without being too weepy, sappy or preechy, and was still able to be poignant and meaningful. I know this is a "loathed" string, but I gotta say, "I loved it." EII is on my 'to read' shelf.


message 7: by Meaghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:50PM) (new)

Meaghan (meggilyweggily) | 6 comments The only thing I liked about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was the title -- it was a wonderful title. I didn't even try Everything Is Illuminated. After reading the other book I wanted to find Jonathan Safran Foer and strangle him for wasting half a day of my life.


message 8: by Esther (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:16PM) (new)

Esther (eshchory) I have just started ELIC.
I don't like artsy literary fiction and was quite surprised that I enjoyed the writing style. It is definitely well executed.

However I having read a little further I am losing my patience - Ok the child's weird, got it. Now stop naval gazing and get on with the story.


message 9: by Karima (new)

Karima I'm with you Sarah. I think this book is MORE than one hundred dollars.


message 10: by Jason (new)

Jason (Gireesh42) bah humbug. After Everything is Illuminated I'm not touching Foer ever again. He should have just skipped the entire present day story and stuck with the historical bit if he wanted the story to mean anything to me. I don't need all that gimmicky tomfoolery that comes across as self-satisfied stylistic gymnastics. That's what I read Perec for.


message 11: by Jason (new)

Jason (Gireesh42) p.s. thanks for the article, Sherri, most interesting


message 12: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) Since my previous comment I have finish ELIC and a little time has past. In retrospect I smile, with affection, at the experience of reading and the cleverness of the concept.

However actually reading it was like hugging a cold fish. It has a clammy unpleasant feel and after awhile it begins to stink.The concepts were clever but only emotion he evoked was dislike for every main character.
And personally I think the boys parents should have been prosecuted for purposely bringing him up to be so dysfunctional. His memories show that 9/11 only exaggerated his personality quirks but was not the cause.

As to all the pictures and formatting 'fun' I just find that juvenile and skip through trying to pay as little attention as possible.



message 13: by Nikki (new)

Nikki Boisture I really loved both books. I think I like ELIC a little better...I'm kind of a sucker for books told from a child's point of view.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan Safran Foer at a book signing. I listened to him speak and had a small conversation with him later. I expected him to be annoying witty and wannabe urbane and faux-artsy, but I was happy to find him extremely down to earth and genuinely surprised by all of his success.




message 14: by Summer (new)

Summer | 28 comments I recently finished this and was surprised to see this book loathed. I really liked it.

His parents nurtured Oskar as an individual. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Do you really think personality quirks are dysfunctional, eshchory? I think in many ways Oskar is a lovely, regular nine-year-old boy. His inventive way of saying banned words cracked me up. In other ways, he is an exceptional, gifted, and sensitive child. I think it’s a balance; in my eyes, he’s certainly non-conformist, but still functional.


message 15: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) Summer there are personality quirks and personality dysfunction.


At first I thought these quirks were an understandable result of berevement but most of them were not.

It is wonderful to have a gifted, exceptional child but irresponsible to nuture these quirks to such an extent that they are unable to live within society with other people.
I felt that the fact he was unpopular in school and had no friends his own age was due his parents encouraging these quirks without limit.

It is similar to breeding dogs for extra long fluffy ears - it maybe attractive but it's cruel to the individual.

Unfortunately, for those of us who prefer our own company, human beings must live and work in the company of others. As a responsible parent it is your duty to ensure your child is able to cope with such situations.


message 16: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 27 comments The kid came across as if he had Asperger's. His sensory issues, high intelligence but quirky language usage, mild obsessions and compulsions...really, you can't "fix" a kid like that, and trying to teach them to fake it is kind of sad. I appreciated that his parents embraced him the way he was instead of trying to mold him into someone who appears "normal". Lots of not-fictional parents would insist a kid like that play sports and have birthday parties. I loved the character, and the book.

I do get not liking Foer, though. I was tepid, at best, about Everything Is Illuminated.


message 17: by Summer (new)

Summer | 28 comments Lisa, the more I consider your comment, the more I feel you are correct. I had focused on Oscar’s individuality forgetting that exceptional intellect sometimes lies beside genuine social impairment.


Elicbyfoeristheworstbookever | 1 comments I am just so glad there are other people that hate this book at least half as much as I do. Thank you!
Even though it's been like 5-6 years since the topic started, I am just so happy that a lot of people don't get influenced by awards and stuff and can make their own evaluations. The book is just so incredibly stupid and unnecessary (except for a couple of places) it is indescribable. This is just disrespectful towards the victims of 9/11.


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