Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Buy it at Amazon.com

The 150-word Review: In Wes Anderson’s film, “The Royal Tenenbaums,” we get a glimpse of the prodigious Tenenbaum children: the entrepreneur, the tennis star, and the playwright. Their precociousness illustrates a whimsical universe that accentuates the despair of their dysfunctional adult lives. Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” cultivates a similar dynamic.

Oskar Schell, a prodigious nine-year-old in his own right, is a budding physicist, inventor, and stage actor, who corresponds with famous scientists and is prone to sesquipedalianism. This all serves to contrast Oskar’s trauma:  his father died on 9/11, Oskar’s “worst day.” A year later, in his dad’s closet, Oskar finds an envelope containing a single key labeled: “Black.” Hoping to grasp one last impression of his dad, Oskar sets forth to visit every “Black” in the phonebook.  Traversing all five boroughs, he encounters an eclectic mix of New Yorkers, all dealing with loss in their own ways.

Having this book on your shelf will impress: Joyce Carol Oates, Kurt Vonnegut (maybe), inquisitive children, Stephen Hawking, survivors, and most critics, but not all.

This book will go great with: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Set the mood with: Hey Jude by The Beatles

Clavinism (stuff that will not make you look cool in a bar): It’s possible Norm, that the title of this novel may allude to an incident from the author’s youth, when he survived an explosion at his school.


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