Monday, February 28, 2011

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The first book of our Rekindled Book Club was 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' by Jonathan Safran Foer. Since we're just starting this book club blog, and there really is no protocol, I invite all the readers & authors to start topics and discussions for this book as separate posts -- and people can respond with comments in reply to a post, or start up a new discussion point as a separate post itself. Blogger can be a little frustrating to maneuver through, so let me know if you're lost and/or confused (Momma).

I think it might be good if we each gave the book a rating, out of 5 stars, to give a simple understanding of how much we liked (or disliked) a book.

Here are some discussion questions I found online about the book ... I don't particularly want to discuss all of them (I've given brief comments in italics), but here they are:

1. Talk about Oskar—an unusually precious child. Do you find him sympathetic or annoying? Or both?
Sympathetic, but very unrealistic. I would have thought he was at least 12-13 years old based on how mature his thought processes were. 

2. For Shakespeare buffs: Oskar "plays Yorick" (the long dead jester whose skull Hamlet holds in his hand!) in a school production. What is the significance of that role? (See Hamlet: Act V, Scene I, Line 188).
I'm sorry, I have no idea what this question is about. 

3. Jonathan Safran Foer has said that he writes about characters and their miscommunications: some characters think they're saying a lot but say nothing; others say nothing but end up saying a lot. Which characters fall into which category in Extremely Loud? What might Foer be saying about our ability to communicate deep-seated emotions?
This question is too deep for me, but I'd be interested if any of you have thoughts on this as a subject.

4. Some critics have wondered where Oskar's mother is and how the child is left alone to wander the streets of New York alone at night. Is that a relevant comment? Do you see this book as a work of realism (in which case the mother's role would matter) ... or as more of a fable, on the order, say, of Life of Pi? If the latter, what is Extremely Loud a fable of? (Like Pi, Oskar seems to be a quester—but of what?)
I find it an insult to compare this book to 'Life of Pi,' which I think is one of the best books ever. Yes, it's totally unrealistic what this 9 year old has set out to do, all on his own. It's some consolation in the end (spoiler alert!) when you realize that the mother had warned all those people that he would be arriving, but even so.

5. Do you find the illustratrions, sribblings, over-written texts, etc. a meaningful, integral part of the work? Or do you find them distracting and gimmicky? Why are they there?
I was wondering if the Kindle readers saw the illustrations and random crossed out text, etc. I honestly didn't understand the significance of it -- can someone explain it to me? 

6. How do both main plot and subplot (Oskar's grandfather and the bombing of Dresden) interweave with one another?
I have no idea. I feel like I'm in a college lit class, I don't like the feeling. 

Overall, I would give this book a 2.5 stars out of 5. I really didn't like it. While Oscar's story was interesting in the opening, I started getting irritated by the side plot of the grandfather who didn't talk (what was the point of that??), and after Oscar visiting about 4 homes, I couldn't care less, and didn't see the point of it. The opening was good, the ending wasn't bad, the middle was boring. I wouldn't recommend this book to others, or even the author for that matter.

Would love to hear what you all thought.

-- Antara B.


  1. I have to read this book for summer reading and answer questions similar to these. I have answered all of the question except for the last part of question 3. I don't know why, but I just can't answer it. I am having a lot of trouble. I know you said that question was too deep for you, but I am still interested in knowing what you think, Antara, because I have no idea.

  2. Hi Julia ... Priti never properly introduced you to the book club, so your comment took us all a bit by surprise :-)
    What did you think of the book overall? I actually HATED it (in case you didn't gather that already from my comments). And I don't really know at all what the author means about some people talking a lot and saying very little and others not talking and saying a lot more. I'm guessing the old guy who befriends the kid (with the nails in the headboard) would be an example of one of these, and of course the grandfather who stopped talking (freakin idiot ... sorry, I'm getting angry at this book again). I don't know who else they might be referring to in this question?