„Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is just that, a book that resonates so loudly inside of you and that gets unbelievably close to you. It usually happens that I get attached to a character and I’m sad when he’s sad and joyful when he’s joyful, but in this case, what I got attached to was the book in itself. Maybe I got attached to the action of storytelling, cause Jonathan was so dedicated and wonderfully gifted in this manner, maybe I got attached to the ideas in the book, maybe it was the addictive sad-joyful feeling that the book gave me. I can’t put my finger on it, but something really touched a nerve.
Getting back to the novel, there’s a lot I would want to say and, in the same time, there is so little I would want to reveal, in order to let you discover everything by yourselves – though I feel that it is not the story in itself that makes this book so fascinating, but the details and the feelings it brings out in people.
There are many ideas behind this book: of death, of waste, of love, of forgiveness, of insecurity, of anger and of transience, and they made me feel extremely sad and incredibly self-conscious, but even more, they made me feel extremely vibrant and incredibly eager to live. And it was such a refresing feeling.
Despite this overwhelming number of ideas that the book joins, I think what Jonathan was ultimately trying to do was make us understand 9/11, not as a historic and devastating moment, not as statistics, but as a tragedy in the life of each and every person that had someone they loved in one of the 2 towers.
Basically the novel revolves around the story of a 9 year old boy that loses his father in 9/11 (though it comprises many more universes than this main one). And one of the reasons I found it to be so loud and clear is probably ‘cause it puts us face to face with the pure and simple feelings of that very young boy, Oskar. And we stay with him as those feelings get correspondents in actions; and the actions are again simple, meaningful and naive, in a way that unfortunately gets lost with age.
After his father passes away, Oskar finds what he believes to be one last clue that was left for him, much like in the games they always used to play together. So, naturally, he goes on a quest to find out what the story behind the clue is. But it’s actually a quest that has the simple purpose of keeping him connected with his father a little while longer. Like nothing had changed.
And though not many of us have passed through something even slightly resembling 9/11, Oskar’s story, of loss and anger, of pain and just trying to keep someone you lost as part of your life, is very easy to connect to; cause, giving a broad meaning to it, most of us have lost something or someone and have passed through all that sequence of feelings.
But, putting aside Oskar’s universe, I surprisingly felt a connection with characters that had stories in which I couldn’t find any resemblance with my own. And that was another thing I really appreciated throughout the book.
I’m aware that all of this might sound like a praise to the novel and, though personally I have found it enriching, I can mention some possibly (slightly) irritating points, one of them being that the main character might have been build looking too much at other fictional characters (such as Herzog or even Holden Caulfield?) and, another, that at times, you could distinguish Jonathan using a particular writing technique, and I’m not saying he shouldn’t have or criticizing his choice of techniques, I’m just saying he didn’t mask them as well as he might have thought.
With that being said, to me, this book was one that truly deserved the hours I spent reading it and I find my time to be very valuable 🙂
All these qualities that Jonathan Foer infused into his book also inspired some very talented people to make a movie after it. And so, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn and many others put the images and voices into this incredible story. And it was much like I had imagined it, which I have to admit doesn’t often happen with movies, but I am very happy it did in this case. And it just completed the experience.
Now, after „listening” to all of this, I hope you will have the curiosity of reading „Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, or watching the movie, as I’m sure any of the two will determine you to do the other as well.