Today I shall be telling you about the second novel of Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. You may have not read his books but for sure you have watched or even heard of the adaptations of his novels. A week of two ago I was telling you about the movie Everything is Illuminated - adaptation after his first novel, a story about a collector of stories/memories who wishes to learn more about his grandfathers past.
As in Everything is Illuminated, the 2nd novel also tells a story about the adventure into the unknown: the hero of the book, a 9 year old boy named Oskar Schell, goes in search of the owner of an old key he found in his Dad's wardrobe. I believe that he hopes, inside his heart, that in this way he would have peace with the notion that his father died in the September 11th tragedy in New York. You can feel his grief and sorrow through every page of the book, but also his optimism and his resolve to face the unknown and face his fears.
The book shows how much our lifes are intertwined with eachother, even though we do not know this. The secondary plan of the book relates the relationship between Oskar's Grandmother and Grandpa and their series of letters between eachother and also the letters of Oskar's Grandpa to Oskar's father - letters that he always meant to send but never did so. The novel is also about secrets - the fact that Oskar kept a secret that he heard the phone messages from his father, the day the plane crashed; the fact that Oskar's Grandma keeps his Grandpa a secret from everyone, saying he is just a renter... Everyone in the book seems to hold a secret of his/her own.
Did you know that there are aproximately 43 ‘Incrediblys’ and 63 ‘Extremelys’ within this book? Jonathan Safran Foer has a way of writing about sad and serious things and also at the same time knows how to pick you up from there and put a smile on your face. You know that Oskar is down in "heavy boots" but then he starts saying something like being in a good mood -‘that was One Hundred Dollars’ mood - and everything becomes smooth again :)
The novel also brings into our attention that there are events in the world that scar us and leave a stamp upon our lifes. This happens every generation! In Everything is Illuminated you read about the Second World War and how it changed lifes of many and still continues to leave a track on further generations. In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close you read about the attack from September 11th. If you will ask people what they were doing at that time they will surely be able to tell you, with details. When the first plane crashed into WTC I was home, in Romania - Iasi. My Mum and my Sister were in the living room and they were watching the latest news. They could not believe their eyes and thought it was a shot from an action movie. I came from the room next door, and that is when the 2nd plane hit... over thousand of people saw the 2nd hit live, on their very own living rooms... it is horrible when you come and think of what media can do.
Oskar's relationship with his father is a strong and loving one. He is the one who helps Oskar develop into the growing man. They shared the intelligence and his father always challenged him with games. I love how Oskar says he never watched TV - as a side-note, our kids will also not be allowed to TV and PC until they reach a more mature age! - there are so many things nowadays that media shows and harms children! Oskar would go to sleep each night with the voice of his father reading him the New York Times and circling the errors they found in red ink.
I really love Oskar's character and I believe he may have a touch of Autism or Asperger's Syndrome in him. He is bright and inventive but he does have an issue with bonding to people - he is very akward when it comes to human relations. He tracks his daily life and the events that come in touch with him rigurously in his very own journal. He lives his life through other people's stories and when he finds the key he immediately believes that the answer to his pain would be following its trail, even if that would mean years of wondering through New York and finsing the right Mr./Mrs. Black. And - SPOILER ALERT! - he eventually does find the owner of the key ;)
And now I shall leave you with a few of my favourite quotes from this heart-breaking book I have learned to love:
*“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living.”
*“Humans are the only animal that blushes, laughs, has religion, wages war, and kisses with lips. So in a way, the more you kiss with lips, the more human you are. And the more you wage war.”
*“What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? When you skateboarded down the street at night you could hear everyone's heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone's hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which I know about, but don't really want to know about. That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn't have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. And at the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon it would sound like war.”
* “In bed that night I invented a special drain that would be underneath every pillow in New York, and would connect to the reservoir. Whenever people cried themselves to sleep, the tears would all go to the same place, and in the morning the weatherman could report if the water level of the Reservoir of Tears had gone up or down, and you could know if New York is in heavy boots.”
*“Fo Black lives on Canal Street, which used to be a real canal. He didn't speak very good English, because he hadn't left Chinatown since he came from Taiwan, because there was no reason for him to. The whole time I talked to him I imagined water on the other side of the window, like we were in an aquarium. He offered me a cup of tea, but I didn't feel like it, but I drank it anyway, to be polite. I asked him did he really love New York or was he just wearing the shirt. He smiles, like he was nervous. I could tell he didn't understand, which made me feel guilty for speaking English, for some reason. I pointed at his shirt. "Do? You? Really? Love? New? York?" He said, "New York?" I said, "Your. Shirt." He looked at his shirt. I pointed at the N and said "New," and the Y and said "York." He looked confused, or embarrassed, or surprised, or maybe even made. I couldn't tell what he was feeling, because I couldn't speak the language of his feelings. "I not know was New York. In Chinese, ny mean 'you.' Thought was 'I love you.'" It was then that I noticed the "I♥NY" poster on the wall, and the "I♥NY" flag over the door, and the "I♥NY" dishtowels, and the "I♥NY" lunchbox on the kitchen table. I asked him, "Well, then why do you love everybody so much?”
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
A LadyBug very much in love with Jonathan Safran Foer's stories