Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

by Jonathan Safran Foer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oskar Schell is an autistic nine-year old who’s father died in the twin towers attack, 9/11. In a vase hidden in his father’s closet Oscar discovers a key in an envelope with the inscription “Black.” Oskar sets out to find the lock that the key opens. He travels round New York and talks to as many Blacks as he can in order to find the answer to his riddle.

I found Oskar’s story very moving. His thoughts as narrator and his character and speech were brilliantly realised. The two parallel narrations are both written in Epistolary form. One is his Grandmother writing to Oskar and the other is his Grandfather writing to his (now deceased) son. I found both of these not quite as interesting – the relationship of the grandparents seemed rather unbelievable. There are various other stylization throughout the book, I found some of these distracting (- the letter with red rings was especially hard to read.) Characters and their stories/actions seemed a bit contrived everyone has something ‘kooky and ‘quirky’ about them.Overall though the main story is very strong and I found it moving and engaging, and beautifully humanist. I just wish it had all been written in more of a straight forward way and less clever-clever.

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