Jonathan Safran Foer “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”


Originally published in the Portland Mercury March 2005

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer’s follow-up to his best-selling Everything is Illuminated, is immediately notable for incorporating an array of unliterary items into the text: photos of turtles copulating and characters’ hairlines, sections written in telephone keypad code, and a flip book of a man jumping in reverse off a collapsing World Trade Center.

The novel centers on nine-year-old Oskar Schell, who loves France and the Beatles and can play Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble-Bee” on the tambourine. Oskar’s father died in the World Trade Center attacks and Oskar is naturally a little screwed up by this, lashing out at his mother and having rage-ful fantasies during his grade school’s production of Hamlet. Oskar’s method of coping involves endlessly cracking jokes and concocting inventions like a retractable building where the elevator stands still and the building moves up and down. When Oskar discovers a key in an envelope marked “Black” in his father’s closet, he sets out to visit everyone with the last name “Black” in New York.

Read the complete article at the Portland Mercury.

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