by Joshua Loveday
This touching book by talented author Jonathan Safron Foer takes the definitive moment of this century—September 11, 2001—and weaves a tender tale of a nine-year-old autistic boy named Oskar coping with the death of his father in that tragedy. Foer adeptly allows the boy’s condition to envelop the narrator’s voice, letting the reader experience Oskar’s unique thought patterns and curious perceptions. Oskar’s guilt at not having answered his father’s last phone call just before the building he was standing atop collapsed compels him to undertake a poignant search for meaning in a seemingly cold and indifferent world. Unlike other books that starkly deal with the existential question, Foer delivers emotional answers of love, compassion and family that made me both smile and weep.
EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE cannot be truly enjoyed in audible form, as the visible and tangible aspects of the photographs and fonts give it a deeper resonance. The series of photographs at the end of the book, meant to be thumb-flipped through like a bouncing ball drawn on the bottom of a notepad, raised the hairs on my arms and sent a shiver along my nerves that left me soothed and spent, grateful to Foer for the chance to experience this unique work from a masterful author. Along with several other contemporary authors, e.g. Jonathan Franzen, the works of Jonathan Safron Foer help define the birth of a new literary era, one that embraces the power of emotion over cold reason, irony without the cynicism and help us move beyond the postmodern age.