To continue on the “group read” theme – I just finished Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and thought the book was amazing. Prior to reading it, I had also read the vast amounts of criticism being thrown against Jonathan Safer Foer (1/2 of the current literary “IT” couple – his wife, Nicole Krauss has a bestselling novel out now as well) and think it is totally unjustified. I applaud Foer for tackling the untouchable subject of 9/11 and he did it in a way that was bearable to read. That is not to say that there were parts that I didn’t find emotionally gut-wrenching and if you lost someone in 9/11 there is no way you could read the book, but that being said Foer uncannily captured the feelings of all those children who lost parents (or at least what I imagine they felt). I also thought the “gimmicks” which DJ Cayenne referred to made the book that much more interesting and that they weren’t pretentious or because he couldn’t write.
My big problem with the book was the entire secondary theme with Oskar’s grandfather. He was a complicated character with a whole host of issues but this storyline just made me lose focus from main story about Oskar and his search for the key. The book would have been as good without the convuluted grandfather story.
This book and Foer’s first novel, Everything is Illuminated, are two of the most interesting books I’ve read in the 21st century. If I was inviting my 5 favorite authors over for cocktails – Foer would definitely make the cut.