Oskar’s father recently died in the 9/11 attack. Oskar has a hard time coping with it, when he stumbles upon a mysterious key in an envelope with the name “Black” on it in his father’s closet. Oskar decides that he has to find out more and the only logical way to go about it is to talk to every person called Black in New York. So he takes the phone book and starts to visit all of them.
In the meantime we’re also confronted with the past of Oskar’s family, specifically his grandparents who came to New York from Germany after WW2.
I was worried that this book wouldn’t be as good as Everything Is Illuminated. Especially since all I read about Jonathan Safran Foer recently is how terribly overrated he is. But I really can’t agree with that (though I can see where the accusations of pretentiousness come from. It’s not pretense-free, but it is so in agood way). Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a wonderful, touching read.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a sad book. It is not entirely hopeless, but it is a book in which people desperately try to communicate with each other and fail consistently. And the only thing you get as consolation is that it is possible to come to terms with the ultimate futility of our attempts at communication. So, yay?
It actually brought me pretty close to crying in the tram a couple of times. Especially the grandparents’ story really touched me and was the better part of the book. Though I also liked Oskar and I’m really not complaining about his bit, either.
Especially because Oskar really has a rather unique perspective. If he isn’t actually autistic, he’s pretty far along the spectrum and I loved how he expresses himself and his needs and feelings.
And I admire it when books play with the typography. It adds an interesting level and is something that is way too often forgotten as an important part of the book. (Though it doesn’t reach the heights of House of Leaves. But then again, what can?)
Summarising: an excellent book.