Thursday, January 27, 2011

[At] the end of my search I wanted to be able to say: I don't know how I could have tried harder

I was originally planning on having multiple posts about this book, as I usually do.  This time I didn't. I couldn't put the book down. Here's my normal book review posting schedule: I start reading the book. Once I've gathered my initial thoughts I'll post. Then once I've finished, I wrap up with my last thoughts.  Maybe the book lived up to my expectations.  Maybe half way through the story fell apart. Maybe I want to talk about one specific scene or quote or whatnot.  If there was something really interesting I wanted to talk about, or if the book is particularly long there may be some additional posts in there. This time I never wanted to stop and gather my thoughts. I just wanted to read more. And then all of a sudden the book was over. So here we go.

This is the first book I'm reading since having read a book on my Kindle and I have to say I'm missing the notes/highlighting feature all ready.  I hate writing in books so I always end up forgetting passages I want to go back to.  I'm happy I was sitting at home reading when I came across the title quote because it gave me the chance to immediately write it down here.

I read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I'd seen this book for awhile, in bookstores on the tables in the middle of the walkways, with staff recommendations or new paperbacks or noteworthy fiction. I use those tables anytime I don't have a specific book in mind. I always noticed this book because that bright hand stands out on the table but it never stood out enough for me to pick it up and look at it closer.  I want to thank Brenna at Literary Musings for her review of this book because it made me finally get the book myself.

The prose is wonderful and lyrical without feeling contrived or forced.  Safran Foer manages to give the different chapters, narrated by different characters, their own voices while still maintaining the lyrical quality. I know this is trite and others have said it, but this book had me both laughing and crying.

At first I found the main character, nine year old Oskar Schell to unbelievable. He's a bit too precocious at times and it's difficult to rectify his age which his actions.* Having said that, Oskar really grew on me and his chapters are my favorites. I may not believe a child with his disposition can be real but I love watching him interact with the characters around NYC. Early in the novel his behavior took me out of the story but as it went on I came to accept it. If I thought about it too long it would bother me again until the end when I went with it. By the end I couldn't imagine Oskar acting any other way.

I can't recommend this book enough. It's beautiful and touching and painful and wonderful. It never felt like Safran Foer was trying to show you how clever his writing is and I never felt manipulated by the story.

I'm not sure how well this book would read on an e-reader.  Safran Foer plays around with text formatting and images and I'm not sure exactly how well that will translate to a Kindle or Nook.

* I actually have the same problem with Ender's Game.  Where else will you find a comparison between Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Ender's Game?  Probably several places, but you'll find it here too.

Title quote from page 160

Safran Foer, Jonathan. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Mariner Books, New York. 2005