Thursday, 28 March 2013

I joined a book club (and a mini review)

Last Friday night I ventured out into the pouring rain armed with my notebook and pen and clutching my library copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I drove into town, headed for the local indie bookshop, where I found a sign saying the book club is delayed and to come to the pub. So that was my first assumption destroyed. Book clubs apparently, at least ones in Taunton, involve alcohol. And lots of it (damn you car). Once we'd settled into the bookshop, and everyone had pulled out their bottles of wine, we promptly ordered pizza. Another assumption destroyed. Food, wine, books...that is pretty much my idea of pure contentment.

Aside from the obvious excitement of being in a bookshop after hours (I sat in the farthest corner, flanked by two serious-ish women, to stop me from wandering among the shelves), I thoroughly enjoyed my book club experience. That is not to say that I enjoyed the book, however. In fact, I really quite disliked the book.

So, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is about Oskar, a 9-10 year old boy who lost his father in the twin towers. He finds a key among his dad's possessions and starts out on a quest to find the lock the key fits. There is a bit of a dual narrative thing going on which concerns the relationship of Oskar's grandparents. Out of the two, I found the narrative of the grandparents far more interesting mostly because it was the most believable (though still not hugely).

I think the issue I had with this book was the complete impossibility of the storyline and the sentimentalism of it. I feel bad saying this because I know a lot of people rave about it but it really didn't come anywhere close to being good for me. I really struggled to believe that a mother would let her young son wander around New York by himself, particularly so soon after the loss of his father.

Saying all that, it did have a couple of good points. I love the layout. The inclusion of pictures and pages with just one sentence on I thought was quite effective (although most of the group thought it was gimmicky). And there is one section when a deaf man turns on his hearing aid for the first time in years and that bit I thought was beautifully written. Ok, maybe literally only a couple of points...

It was funny and it was sad (particularly the Dresden bit) but in the end it really did nothing for me. In general, I'm going to leave Jonathon Safran Foer to go his way and I'll go mine. Sorry, dude.



  1. You know what? I'm so happy to read this review because honestly, I thought I was the only person who didn't entirely LOVE this. I mean, I liked it more than you did (WOAH, you did not like it!) cause OMG the writing is beautiful, but plot-wise and believable character-wise... No. Just no.

    That's so exciting that you joined a book club! I definitely need to find one. But people around here don't seem to read...

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't love it. I was starting to worry I'd get hate mail or something. I agree that the writing is pretty darn breathtaking but for the rest...yeh, no.

      Maybe if you tell people that there will be copious amounts of booze, they may start reading?


© Lit Nerd. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig