Oskar Schell, an eleven-year-old with Asperger’s losing his father during the 9/11. That was what the film focused, but not the book, which is why I dislike the book less. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close explored first the inner world of Oskar’s mind by projecting briefly life before ‘the worst day’ with his father and after, in which his father never came back. And the adventure began as he found a note written ‘Black’ in his father’s wardrobe when he was trying to reminiscing his father’s memory. What is fine in this book is that it did not focus too much on the internationally hot event. Rather, it was just mentioned at ‘the worst day’. Instead, the conjecture of the plot, at least for Oskar’s part, pointed to the emotion one has to deal with in response to a lost. And in this case, Oskar may not show the usual cry and grief kind of drama because that was not how his emotional world works. Besides, his thoughts were mixed with something else: the secret of the last few call messages of his father. The secret was so heavy that he carried with him almost along most of his journey, at least for the early half of the book. However, I do say the Jonathan Safran Foer’s image of Oskar was not very accurate at time. Yes, people with Asperger’s always have a lot of things in their mind, complicated. But Oskar seems to be too old for his age in terms of thinking sometimes. It was as though Foer accidentally let himself slipped into his character here and there along the story. But generally, in terms of the voice and emotion, Foer did well and it could capture some attention.
But then, things didn’t go well for the whole book, did it?
For me, Foer’s book loses its attraction when it comes to the subplot. It may be a style of writing, by adding backgrounds for another character as a subplot. It was a great thing to understand how Oskar’s grandmother and grandfather acted in Oskar’s time by flashbacks of their past. However, to some point, it was so heavy that the whole book started to lose focus. Plus, this part is lengthy.
On the other note, I do like the way the book was designed where there were some visualization of what was going on in the plot such as the paper Oskar found in the stationery shop, the pages that were filled with correction circle, the pages when the words showed how confusing Oskar’s inner world has become. These are some plus points that attracted me, personally.
These are some examples of how Foer capture story-telling techniques not just by words:
Photos taken from here.
Overall, this is a good book to read on – at least for Oskar’s part.
“I regret that it takes a life to learn how to live.”
“So many people enter and leave your life! Hundreds of thousands of people! You have to keep the door open so they can come in! But it also means you have to let them go!”
“I felt, that night, on that stage, under that skull, incredibly close to everything in the universe, but also extremely alone. I wondered, for the first time in my life, if life was worth all the work it took to live. What exactly made it worth it? What's so horrible about being dead forever, and not feeling anything, and not even dreaming? What's so great about feeling and dreaming?”
“I tried the key in all the doors, even though he said he didn't recognize it. It's not that I didn't trust him, becuase I did. It's that at the end of my search I wanted to be able to say: I don't know how I could have tried harder.”