Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I loved Everything’s Illuminated. I was so head-over-heels in love with Jonathan Safran Foer's screw-all-rules style that I would have willingly lapped up anything he dished out in his second offering. So when I saw ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ in the ‘newly arrived’ shelf in my library, I launched head first to grab my copy. I wish I had not got myself into such a frenzy. For, Extremely.. disappoints. It has a number of gimmicks that have come to typify Jonathan’s writing style. Like two pages written entirely in numerals, several illustrations, photographs, misspellings circled and so on. However, instead of amusing you or drawing you in to the narrative, they feel tired. Like an oft-repeated joke that makes you wonder what you found funny in the first place.
Extremely.. is the story of 9-year old Oskar Schell who sets out to find the lock that would open with the key that belongs to his father who was killed in the attack on World Trade Centre. Oskar is a precocious young man (with Asperger’s?) who is everything from a vegan, inventor, pacifist, tambourine player to an amateur-detective and more. His quest to find the lock takes him around New York and his adventures are told in his endearing voice. This has to be the best part of the book. Because, the part about his grandparents who survived the Dresden bombing can be skipped without missing a beat.
This is a sharply-observed, often-poignant, whimsical tale of love, loss and suffering. But it would have endeared itself more had it been told with fewer frills.