Loads of Learned Lumber

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jonathan Safran Foer, _Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close_

TO BE HONEST, I did not care for Everything Is Illuminated and had no plans to read Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, but then it ended up being one of the monthly selections of the book club, so... oh, well.

I enjoyed it more than I did Everything Is Illuminated. It certainly has what we could call a family resemblance. Oskar Schell, our narrator, is as richly provided with quirks as was Alex Perchov. We again have personal traumas nested within historical ones, the Holocaust in Everything, 9/11 and the Dresden fire-bombing in Extremely. In both novels, New World descendants come to terms with what happened to Old World ancestors.

I cannot quell my suspicion that J. S. F. is drawn to historical trauma and Old World settings because they all by themselves (he might hope) lend a gravitas that his fictions otherwise would not quite attain. For my money, Joshua Cohen blows him out of the water.

But I was fond of the almost Dickensian A. R. Black, his index cards and exclamation points, and I loved that Oskar was cast as Yorick in his school's streamlined production of Hamlet. I may give Foer's third novel, when it comes, a shot. I won't be letting him tell me what to eat, however.

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