Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I read this book for a number of reasons. 1) My dad read it ages ago and liked it. And he owned it. 2) Fae read it about a month ago and loved it and 3) The author, Jonathan Safran Foer, is married to Nicole Krauss who wrote History of Love, my favourite book of the year.

The book was beautiful.

I keep reading books that are told from the perspectives of children, and I find them really interesting. These are never regular children - they’re always different, too smart, too imaginative, or something. But using a kid as the narrator allows the author to explore such different thing. A child has far less expectations, far less preconcieved notions and more imagination. Their past is usually an open book, you’re not always waiting for the revelation of a traumatic event, like you often are with adult main characters.

The other thing about this book, similar to Krauss or Winterson, is that it’s all about stories. Telling your story and the story of your family. Personal histories. What can I say, I love stories about stories.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was at times painful. Oskar lost his father in 9/11, and he’s heartbroken. He hurts far too much for a nine year old boy. But at the same time it was inspirational. Because as a nine year old boy, Oskar allows himself to be open to feeling and learning. He trusts people and he forms incredibly close bonds with strangers.

The book is about how everyone is sad, but also how no one is alone. It’s quite beautiful.

“Does it break my heart, of course, every moment of every day, into more pieces than my heart was made of, I never thought of myself as quiet, much less silent, I never thought about things at all, everything changed, the distance that wedged itself between me and my happiness wasn’t the world, it wasn’t the bombs and the burning buildings, it was me, my thinking, the cancer of never letting go, is ignorance bliss, I don’t know, but it’s so painful to think, and tell me, what did thinking ever do for me, to what great place did thinking bring me? I think and think and think, I’ve thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it.”

“In bed that night I invented a special drain that would be underneath every pillow in New York, and would connect to the reservoir. Wheneve rpeople cried themselves to sleep, the tears would all go to the same place, and in the morning the weather could report if the water level of the Reservoir of Tears had gone up or down, and you could know if New York was in heavy boots. And when something really terrible happened - like a nuclear bomb, or at least a biological weapons attack - an extremely loud siren would go off, telling everyone to get to Central Park to put sandbags around the reservoir.”

“It made me start to wonder if there were other people so lonely so close. I thought about ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ It’s true, where do they all come from? And where do they all belong?”

“When I heard that your organization was recording testimonies, I knew I had to come. She died in my arms, saying, ‘I don’t want to die.’ That is what death is like. It doesn’t matter what uniforms the soldiers are wearing. It doesn’t matter how good the weapons are. I thought if everyone could see what I saw, we would never have war anymore.”

2 Comments

  • By Faebala, September 3, 2009 @ 11:24 am

    Ooooh. I’m SO happy you read this! Did you cry? As you know, I cried SO hard. That part at the end when he’s talking to the real Black and he’s explaining the phone calls he received from his dad the morning he died, and he goes, “Now hold my hand so I can tell this next part.”

    I lost it. I wanted to take him and squeeze him and save him from his pain, poor little Oskar.

    That quote about the reservoir of tears was probably one of my favorite quotes from that book. That, and the one about the tin can that the boy held “I love you” in. SO sweet and brilliant.

  • By Christine Sweeton *The Chris*, September 11, 2009 @ 11:06 am

    I have to read this!! The same class that I have to read Breakfast of Champions! (It is a class on books with pictures, seriously)

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