Wednesday, August 19, 2009
My sister recently encouraged me to read Jonathan Safran Foer's book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Having just finished it I have to recommend it as well. It is really hard to explain just how amazing this book is. It deals with all sorts of wrenching issues like the World Trade Center attack, the bombing of Dresden, family, loss and abandonment. And while it breaks your heart a little on one page, it renews it again on the next. I was often left feeling as though I needed to cry, but at the same time, I was so engaged in the lives of the characters there just didn't seem to be time to cry. I don't know. It's hard to explain. It tugs at you the way Ordinary People does.
It is narrated most of the time by a nine year old boy who in reality is far too smart for his actual age. But because he is both naive and incredibly intelligent, we can experience all the complexities of loss: sadness and fear as well as confusion and a downright inability to accept it. There many pages in the novel devoted to images, photographs and creative typography. The thing that pervades, though is Foer's ability to write with just enough poetry in his words to make you forget that his characters are just slightly outside reality. His writing goes to the heart of them and they feel completely real and tangible. And you fall in love with them.
It is one of my favorite books and I don't think I'll be the same for having read it. I cannot put it any better than Foer does: "...it broke my heart into more pieces than my heart was made of..."