Thursday, 23 February 2012

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father's closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.

Have you ever had one of those dreams where things just don't seem to flow together? Or better yet, have you ever just been laying in bed and had a million disjointed thoughts run through your mind?

This book is a lot like that.

Most of it is told in the 'voice' of nine-year-old Oskar, but even those parts that are written from the point of view of his grandmother and grandfather are quite similar. Of course, the reason for this is because most of the book is a composition of letters, and we all know that we don't write a piece of correspondence in the same fashion that we write an essay.

Or a blog, for that matter.

Anyway, Jonathan Safran Foer has been heralded as a  gifted writer for his style of writing, but the truth of the matter is, though I thoroughly enjoyed the story, there did come a point where I was getting frustrated with how it was laid out. That may have something to do with the fact that I was reading it in ebook format, rather than as a physical paperback, but only somewhat. I even found my thoughts after having put down the book - both at work and at home with my husband - going through my head in a similar disjointed way. It was liberating for the first few minutes, letting things get all jumbled up together in tangents and side stories, but then it just got annoying.

My husband especially found it bothersome, since I have a habit of speaking my thoughts out loud sometimes...

Besides that - though it was a really, really distracting piece - the book wasn't all that bad. I laughed in all of the right places, and got teary-eyed when I was supposed to, so it definitively had a grasp on my emotions. And the ending came together - in my own opinion - in such a way that had me thinking, "Oh - that makes sense." (Even though some others who read it might have found it that it left you hanging)

Overall, I give it a 3.5 - a bit lower than the 4.1 average it received on Goodreads - which I find amusing, considering that nearly every review I read on there pretty much complained about the style as much as I did. The fact that the background was New York just after September 11 and most reviewers were American may have something to do with it.

Or maybe I'm just flustered because, since reading it, I still haven't gotten my own thoughts back on track. So this is what it's like to be 9 years old again...

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