adimino47, December 12, 2008
This is without a doubt one of the best contemporary novels that I've read in the last few years, and it has a wide appeal to everyone who loves novels--it's a mystery, it's incredibly imaginative, it's funny with an element of tragedy. It isn't MEANT to be superrealistic--let's not judge it on that basis--but it's brilliant. When I read a book like this, about a historical event that we'll remember all of our lives, I think about questions that are important for all of us, and that I discuss with my students. How do cultures preserve important events? In public ceremonies and tense debates, in history books and children’s lessons, in songs and statues, in award-winning literature and family stories. Every generation revises the past. As our culture reacts to the trauma of 9/11, it is remarkable to see, so soon after the event, an exceptional novel like Jonathan Safran Foer’s EXTRREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE. The event is refracted through the consciousness of a child. Nine-year old Oskar Schell, whose brilliant father has died in the World Trade Center, gives new meaning to the word “precocious”; he idolizes renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. Narrating a mile a minute, Oskar embarks on a Reconnaisance Expedition that reminds him of the ones his Dad invented for him. Only this way can he still feel close. Oskar has discovered a key in his Dad’s closet, in an envelope that bears the name “Black.” In order to find the lock, and a secret that may bring his Dad closer, he decides to visit every Black in New York City—all 472 of them--with his sidekick and neighbor, 103-year-old Mr. Black. Connecting with these lives, he tries to forget the last six phone messages that his Dad left before dying. Extremely moving and incredibly funny, this novel has made reviewers exhaust every superlative in the dictionary. Just read it.