Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Extremely Loud - the Second Time Around
I finished this late last night and I just couldn't sleep after that. Wow. Notice I wrote wow with a period after it and not an exclamation point. This is a quiet wow, a breathless wow and a sad wow all rolled into one because of how the ending affected me. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer has blown me away with its beauty. And to think I read a few pages of this book last year and abandoned it. I only decided to give it another try after I loved his wife's book, Great House by Nicole Krauss. I'm fascinated by this young couple who are married, have two children, live in a brownstone in Brooklyn, New York and produce such heartbreaking works of art.
Krauss once said in an interview that they never discuss work and they only read each other's books once they are in proof form. There are definitely some similarities in their styles but they're both still quite different. However, it's obvious that one style influences the other and vice versa. How can it not with two writers living so close together? Of those two books above, the superior one for me is Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Of course, I have yet to read their other novels.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has been described as being pretentious and to be honest that was what I first thought upon reading a few pages last year. 'I can't read this," I thought. "This isn't my style at all." The prose is loud and in your face There are run-on sentences and paragraphs that just go on and on. It does take some time to get used to. On my second reading, I persevered and after just a few pages, I was entranced by the wonderful protagonist, Oskar, and his impossible quest to find a lock that fits a key that belonged to his dead father. This is a book about memories, love, loss, loneliness, longing and managing to go on living after the one we love is gone. Heartbreaking and touching. A book to hug, to hold on to and cherish and put on the shelf next to my other favorite novels of all time. I'm so glad I gave this another chance.
This is also an incredibly visual book. A book that should be read in its print edition. There are photographs, blank pages with only a few words and 15 pages that form their own flip book. I also just found out that it's soon to be a film starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. A sure hit I'm sure but please, please, read the book first.
My next reads are The History of Love by Krauss and Everything is Illuminated by Foer. Which one do you recommend I read first? Both were books I abandoned years ago but ah...I am now certain that I gave up too soon. I suspect that I'll appreciate them more this time. Which goes to show that books, just like some things in life, have their time and place. A book you were not ready to read before maybe be the perfect one for you now. A book you abandoned long ago may be something you'd actually love now. Have you ever abandoned a book and then gave it another chance at another time? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.