Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close ePUB ☆ Loud and

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close [BOOKS] ✪ Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Author Jonathan Safran Foer – Thomashillier.co.uk Nine year old Oskar Schell is an inventor amateur entomologist Francophile letter writer pacifist natural historian percussionist romantic Great Explorer jeweller detective vegan and collector of butt Nine year old Oskar and Incredibly ePUB ☆ Schell is an inventor amateur entomologist Francophile letter writer pacifist natural historian percussionist romantic Great Explorer jeweller detective vegan and collector of butterflies When his father is killed in the September th attacks on the World Trade Centre Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father's closet It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers through the five boroughs of New York into history to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer Extremely Loud ePUB ½ to some kind of peace.


About the Author: Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer is and Incredibly ePUB ☆ the author of two bestselling award winning novels Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and a bestselling work of nonfiction Eating Animals He lives in Brooklyn New York.



10 thoughts on “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

  1. Kim Kim says:

    There are books that affect me and then there are books that kill me This falls in the latter I cried on the couch I cried on the bus I cried at stoplights I cried at work I cried over this book than I did on the actual September 11th Then I became upset that this piece of fiction could invoke such melancholia Can I use the excuse of being in shock during the actual event? That it seemed like a movie? I have no excuse Flash back The second half of 1994 my then boyfriend and I living in the East Village 23 years old and clueless We were broke most of the time not much into clubbing so about 4 out of 7 nights we would walk Never north only through the Village or SoHo and eventually our meandering would lead us to the Towers No matter what path we’d take it was our destination I remember many nights sitting on this ratty red paint peeled bench staring across the river at Jersey specifically the Colgate sign and just talking about everything Hours sped by and we’d drag our sorry asses back to the train and to our tiny apartment I remember nights where I’d hug the side of Tower One pressing against it and lift my head as far back as I could and stare up until the glass met the sky and I’d get so dizzy I’d stumble back I remember the night that we decided to marry I remember exchanging our vows leaning against the railing staring up always up I haven’t been to New York in 13 years I can’t even imagine a New York without those buildings AnywayThere are 43 ‘Incrediblys’ and 63 ‘Extremelys’ within this book Does anyone really ever use those adverbs any? Is anything ever extreme or incredible enough for us? My daughter has taken to using ‘perfectly’ in almost every sentence and it brings a smile to my face each time The journey that the boy Oskar takes in this book is beautiful The need to feel close to his father who died in the attacks to spend just a bit time with him While Oskar is a bit unbelievable as a character I felt that that was soon overshadowed by the images presented I know I do this a lot in reviews but I can’t help it Lines like “Being with him made my brain uiet I didn’t have to invent a thing” or “ My insides don’t match up with my outsides” and “It takes a life to learn how to live”I’m a sucker for a good line When Oskar is anxious he describes it as ‘wearing heavy boots’ and when his Grandmother likes something or in a good mood she uses the term ‘that was One Hundred Dollars’ and then there’s a whole mention of a ‘Birdseed shirt’ that I’m still unclear about but enjoy the imagery ofBut this isn’t just Oskar’s journey this is also about Oskar’s grandparents and that piece is as strong as his story sometimes stronger I won’t go into that any I’ll let you read about it Some have called this ‘gimmicky’ or ‘precious’ but I was truly moved by this story and combined with the images presented it will stay with me for a very long time to come As will 1994


  2. brian brian says:

    well i'm naturally drawn to those people who are overwhelmed by existence by people who hurt too easily; who for them life seems to be almost too much for whom the unceasing cacophony of thought and memory and idea is just too painful and all the cruelty and the violence is inconceivable and the mystery of life and love and foreverness and the past and all of it is just overwhelming to the point in which one wishes one could scream so loud that it would just make it all go away that one could exorcise all of it that one could just somehow leave just leave their body and leave the planet and get away from all the people and all the loss and all the memories that sit in the stomach and the chest and the throat and just get away from death and from the monotony of everyday life and also from the hysteria of those moments those big lifechangers and leave behind the fact that he will die and that everyone he knows or ever has known will one day be a slab of meat in a wooden box it's too much sometimes and fuck if you are a writer that can somehow come up with the means to tell a story a small story even to summarize the totality of what it means to be alive on planet earth and to live amongst and around all these people and memories and ghosts and all the potential and possibilities well shit how did this young twerp do it? and it's not perfect yeah it is precious at times and yes he doesn't always mix tone that well there are scenes that feel heightened when they could've played straight to powerful effect and blahblahblah but fuck if the flaws don't add to the whole i'd be suspicious if it was perfect because life itself is a messy affair and that's what this book is about but what are you going to do? leave it? no you stick around and you find those people you love and you never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever let go and if they're taken from you or leave you you rail and rant against your god or your country or their country or a cold uncaring universe or nature or dumb luck and you scream and you cry and threaten suicide or murder and pull out your hair and punch cement walls and then then you uiet down and mend your knuckles and straighten your hair and put down the gun and stop guzzling the bourbon and you get your shit together and you move on but you're never the same


  3. Ben Ben says:

    There must be something wrong with me I’m not as smart as my goodreader friends I lack empathy My humor is deficient I have no compassion And I suck at lifeOf the 40 of you “friends” who read this this is how you rated it5 stars 18 people 4 stars 13 people3 stars 7 people2 stars 2 people1 star 0 peopleSomething wrong with me indeedOr something wrong with all of youNo I didn’t finish it I value opportunity and freedom too much for that I listened to it People tell me if I had read it instead of listening to it I would have liked it I now tell them that I don’t careI have returned this grouping of compact discs to my local library They are now safely out of my hands Its twelve separate discs no longer have to worry about me yelling obscenities at them extremely loudly They need not be concerned that they get thrown again at the passenger side door incredibly closelySo go away Jonathan Safran Foer Don’t cry for me Argentina It’s your birthday don’t cry if you want to Stop your sobbing I was crying just to get you now I'm dying cause I let you do what you do down on me Or not Okay please don’t Seriously I’ve had enough You are cheesy and you annoy me I’m done So take your forced cuteness and your vegan cupcakes and go home


  4. Bart Bart says:

    When Thomas Pynchon invented what James Wood later named “hyper realism” he did literature no favors To read Pynchon is to witness genius at its most joyless A mind capable of inventing myriad things and compelled to record them all But at least Pynchon showed geniusWhat Jonathan Safran Foer shows however is mere gimmickry Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close takes readers who thought they might have seen a glimmer of greatness in Everything is Illuminated and convinces them all they really saw were special effectsIt’s very difficult to read Foer’s second novel without reflecting on his first Everything is Illuminated began in such an original way that a reader forgave the 150 or so dull pages of less than compelling writing that came along throughout the rest of the book The reader forgave the puerile reflections on the Holocaust and the manufactured confession of homosexuality Because the book began so originallyBut Foer is a one trick pony In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close he’s once co opted a mass tragedy and made a fruit salad of it with various voices and narrative tricks Oh sure the book has an underlying tone of sadness – sadness not seriousness – because clever as he wants to be Foer didn’t dare go wholehog with a tragedy still as fresh as 911 But that’s about the only restriction he put on his vanityTo indulge himself with a hundred irritating digressions and uips Foer invented a child narrator This has become and common among the hyper realism set in the last 10 years Raised by guidance counselors who told them to never stop being childish these novelists give us hundreds of pages of “exploring their inner child” – all under the guise of serious artistic endeavorBut this is not serious art This is an author who makes the easy choice every time When he thinks he has something profound to say he doesn’t hesitate to have his nine year old narrator couch things in college level language The rest of the time when he feels like writing about whichever page of the encyclopedia he happened to turn to that morning he has the little professor wander off wherever he wishes always with a literary safety net that says “I’m trying to depict the world through a child’s eyes”But we should ask ourselves why a novelist feels compelled to depict a mass tragedy through a child’s eyes After all this isn’t biography; Foer could have depicted the tragedy through anyone’s eyes at all Better put when he sat down to write about the savagery of Napoleon’s 1812 battle with Russia why didn’t Leo Tolstoy depict the burning of Moscow through the eyes of a nine year old and his nutty and mute grandfather? Probably because a nine year old would have limited Tolstoy’s vocabulary too drastically; a nine year old doesn’t know enough to say anything original about warTolstoy in other words was too concerned about making an original commentary to worry about being a “fresh new voice” in the contemporary fiction scene Tolstoy took a large subject and made it larger Foer takes a large subject and makes it tiny But sometimes I’ve learned large things must be tiny That’s how Foer’s narrator would say it And he’d be wrong of course But then that’s why we don’t publish books written by nine year olds


  5. Andy Andy says:

    A apt title would have been Terribly Artificial and Unbearably Pretentious This seems like the kind of thing I would have thought was a profound idea when I myself was nine laboring on crayon illustrations to include with my manuscript into the wee hours of the morning Maybe that means Foer succeeded I happen to think it means his efforts were an abject failure and that he has a great many readers and critics completely snowedWith a book like this you either accept it as charming wistfulness or you don’t You either think random tabbing on pages is innovative or you don’t You think empty pages and single phrases on other pages is a daring deconstruction of traditional publishing s or you don’t I don’tFoer’s grieving young narrator is a ridiculous creation the book’s pagination is something a stricter editor should have vomited upon and the situations in which Oskar finds himself are fabricated of glitter encrusted papier mâché This story is never once believable; therefore any emotion generated is as phony as a three dollar bill Now don’t misunderstand; I read lots of far fetched books so I believe genuine emotion can be achieved through stories about the tooth fairy WMDs sympathetic lawyers or any number of myths But too many times in this book people do things just to do them and things happen just to have them happen or to give Foer scanty reason to wax poetic for pages at a time – without such bourgeoisie restrictions as paragraphs or punctuation or sensible storytelling muddling up the artiste’s visionFoer’s stream of consciousness narrative reminds me of the saying about the infinite monkeys sooner or later one of an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters is going to randomly type the complete works of Shakespeare Except in Foer’s case it’s as though he was one of the monkeys in the middle of infinity a bright but underachieving chimpanzee picking nits and banging the keys petulantly with a hardened piece of fecal matter If Foer wished to write a thick book entirely in free verse broken up with pictures now and again so people don’t become “bored” then he should have had the cajones to do so not foist this vanity project upon the public under the guise of a novel claiming to be about reaction to 911This is a book for a self important Attention Deficit society I think most people in today’s age of texting while driving and non stop news alerts and picture in picture don’t actually read every word on the page anyway They scan pages looking for the “good stuff” and that’s all they remember So therefore they’re not put off by the author’s interminable ramblings his attempt to bludgeon the reader with a thick blanket of nonsensical phrases hoping they will be distracted into thinking they come together to create some sort of profound stew greater than the sum of its silly parts But for those of us who think each word matters this practice is annoying subterfuge and ultimately meaningless


  6. Paul Bryant Paul Bryant says:

    I’m Oskar with a k like Liza with a Z cause Oskar with a k is krazy also kind klever and kultured I’m 10 going on Dalai Lama I make jewellery I know and collect butterflies who have died naturally and play a tambourine constantly You have to wonder why no one has killed me since I must drive people insane with my maximum cuteness Oh and have shortwave radio conversations with my grandma over in another desirable residence in the Upper West Side I have empathy for every living thing including you This great and terrible tragedy happened to me so nobody not even those horrid GR people can make fun of me even when I’m so twee a hobbit would thwow up all over the nearest elf This is the way I speak with my Mom “Mom?” “Yes?” “Nothing” “What is it baby?” “Well it’s just that wouldn’t it be great if mattresses had spaces for your arm so that when you rolled on to your side you could fit just right?” “That would be nice” “And good for your back probably because it would let your spine be straight which I know is important” “That is important” “Also it would make snuggling easier And making snuggling easier is important” “Very”Here you can use this bin or the sink whichever I’m so kloying and keen to make everyone’s lives better by befriending deaf centenarians and lonely billionaires and dragging them off on eccentric heart twanging dead father related uests that Amelie from that kooky French movie Amelie would be out cloyed and out eccentriced at every turn would have to throw herself out of my window wearing a birdseed dress which is an invention of mine for suicides by defenestration as the birdseed would attract birds who would carry the person aloft thus prevent their self destruction Okay maybe when the birdseed was gone then the person would plummet but I don’t think that far about any of my kooky schemes magical children who could never possibly exist don’t do that My brain is just naturally like Pixar HD I’ll invent an invisibility suit that has a camera on my back that takes video of everything behind me and plays it onto a plasma screen that I’ll wear on my front which will cover everything but my face It’ll look like I’m not there at allYou may be wondering how I got to be like I am Well there’s a long line of cutesypie narrators in my family My grandfather frinstance He’s tweer than me Is that a word? It is now He explained How I Met Your Grandmother like this I had so much to ask her “Do you lie on your stomach and look for things under the ice? Do you like plays? Do you like it when you can hear something before you can see it? in the middle of my youth in the middle of Europe in between our two villages on the verge of losing everything I bumped into something and was knocked to the ground at first I thought I’d walked into a tree but then the tree became a personI would like to explain that I am depressed about my father but as I’m in this novel I don’t call it that I say I’m wearing heavy boots I would also like to say that what with all this smiling through tears the grandma the grandfather the old guy who can hear again the mom who is probably schmoozing with some guy in the next room the sad uest to find the Blacks of New York AND 911 AND let's throw Hitler into the mix you don’t have to look any further for a dictionary definition of emotional blackmail


  7. emma emma says:

    WARNING EARNEST REVIEW AHEAD Very genuine and emotional and generally grossI love Jonathan Safran Foer I love him even though chances seem high that he is uite pretentious have you read that New York Times piece made up of email correspondence between Natalie Portman and himself? Perma cringe I love him even though I’ve only read two of his books and may never read than that I love him even though absolutely the only thing I care to know about him is his writingWhen someone writes the way he does there’s no response to have for me other than thatThe flaws of his books characters and scenes that can border on the fantastical a pervasive feeling of try hard iness to coin a word are so easily overlooked Not even actually I fell and fall so deeply in love with his writing that these things seem like positives tooI like that our main character Oskar Schell feels a tad too big and vibrant for the world It makes me love him harder experience his too big feelings I especially like his unbelievability because he’s surrounded by lovely mundanity flawed but loving parents countless beautiful and unremarkable people of New YorkI love love love his uest through the city to meet everyone he can with the last name Black I like the impossibility of it the various things that come together to make it “possible” when even those various things seem deeply unrealisticI like the sometimes eye rolly ways that the author plays with formatting and perspective and language It doesn’t take me out It wraps me up Bottom line I like all the things that make this book beautiful and completely one of a kind Even the over the top things i'm so happy to be rereading this


  8. Amanda Amanda says:

    Today while tutoring I've met with one student right at 1 and another at 4 In between those times I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Perhaps that was not the smartest thing to doSometimes I find the book so funny that I laugh out loud Which is fine if I had a uiet laugh but I don't And I tutor in a common meeting space which is a center room with offices surrounding it Clearly everyone in the office knew I was getting paid to laugh at what I was reading I felt bad; if I was working I wouldn't want to hear someone who was getting paid to read laughing In my defense at least everyone could see that writing matters to me and I appreciate uality literature which further proves my already established ualifications as a tutorBut then I got to the climax of the book and I was moved by how the climax was written because it felt so real to me because it captured how I feel and think if those things could be replicated in language other than poetry and I loved the characters as I love my families and I loved the twist in the plot and how it came together in a way I didn't think it would come together because I was being skeptical and I thought it would be trite so I'm reading in the middle of this common room but I wouldn't call it reading as much as I would call it immersing myself into the novel when I start crying Once the tears got in the way of my reading I looked away from the page to wipe them and realized I wasn't at home I was in the Student Athletics Department I was tutoring I had to pull my shit togetherWhat I love is that a book could do that to me That it could inspire me to write to live to not be afraid to not be embarrassed when I bawl at work I love this book so much I'm going to buy a copy of it I would marry it if I wasn't married to FD I want to put Kiedrowski's frosting on it and eat itI love the multi genre ness of it It's brave and out there and absolutely gorgeousI still have one chapter left Once I started crying I thought maybe I should wait until I was home to finish it just in case I need to sob for a couple of minutes or hoursIt's moments like these that make me happy to be a reader and even so a writerIt's almost 9 pm and I finished the book I didn't cry I didn't sob I just finished it while BB ing tonight's dinner Chicken roasted potatoes and broccoli ate dinner while watching the newest Deadliest Catch cleaned up and talked to Pops What's funny is though all the while I was doing this business I was thinking about this book And I have a feeling I'm going to think about this book for a long while Like when I see a great film that moves me it sticks with me such as Dancer in the DarkAnd when I read something so good like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close I believe in God than any other time in my life Because without God how could such a great book come into existence? Or such a great author who is able to write such a great book? And then such a great mind? And the food such a great mind eats? And the air such a great mind breathes? You probably can see where this is goingI can't review this book like other books Mostly because I'm too emotional right now But I can say if you read this blog you should this book if you haven't alreadyAnd before I give my HK rating a fellow McGuireFacebook buddy said about Foer's book it's seriously chronic i already bought Everything is Illuminated Chronic people Dr Dre and Snoop would be up on this shit C'monFor the first time ever and maybe only time ever5 Hello Kittys


  9. Lawyer Lawyer says:

    Extremely Loud and Incredbily Close Jonathan Foer's novel of love loss and memoryThere are events that leave an indelible stamp on us for a great portion of our lives This happens from generation to generationAsk those living at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor where they were and what they were doing they will be able to tell you the answer Similarly ask me where I was when I heard John F Kennedy was shot I can tell youAsk what I was doing when the attacks of 911 occurred I can tell you I had arrived at work at the District Attorney's Office My chief side kick with whom I was working prep for a trial ran into the grand jury room and said turn on the television I did What I saw was something I could not accept Jonathan Foer goes far past the point of remembrance Foer drops you into the shoes of 8 year old Oskar Schell For him 911 is not simply an event which he will remember for its historical significance It is an event he lives daily because he lost his father that day And the event is brought home to him for he has a cell phone with his father's messages sent from the twin towers that day This is a secret he keeps from his mother for he wants to protect her from the pain of those messages It is an incredible burden for a child to bear Oskar is left with a gamut of guilt and fears resulting in a state of vicarious traumatic response to his father's death His grief is all the palpable because he is extremely gifted and incredibly cursed with an intelligence far gifted than children his ageOskar shared a bond with his father who fostered that intelligence by devoting great attention on his son gently lulling him to sleep at nights by reading him the New York Times and circling the errors they found in red ink His father challenged Oskar's intelligence by setting up uestions for Oskar to solve leaving clues amounting to a trail of breadcrumbs leading him to a solution of the problems he designed for himOr did he? Did his father actually do this? Or is this something which Oskar has perceived in his mind alone?The action of this novel occurs a year after the fall of the Towers Oskar is still dealing with the traumatization of his father's loss In an effort to keep the memory of his father close Oskar freuently hides in his father's closet where the scent of his father's shaving still lingers in his mind if only in his mindA bundle of memories and his fears cripple Oskar in his dealings with others especially his schoolmates whom are not affected by the fall of the Towers as Oskar is Nor does Oskar perceive his mother to be as deeply affected by the loss of his father She has a new friend Ron who becomes a freuent visitor to the apartment Oskar hears their laughter in the living room as he hides in his father's closet At one point typical of a child he tells his mother he wishes it had been her who died that day It is something a child would say intentionally hurting the remaining parent then immediately struck with the hurt he inflicted on his mother whom he loved without uestionThere are strong clues that while Oskar is undoubtedly a prodigy of intelligence far beyond his years that Oskar just might suffer from than childhood fears Is it that Oskar is afflicted by Asperger's Syndrome? A look into the Diagnostic Services Manual I believe we're in the fifth edition of that psychological cookbook now reveals that this is a distinct possibilityOskar is enveloped in a net of pattern and design a characteristic shared by children with this diagnosis He is awkward in his social interactions Nor does he seem to grasp the results of his actions in social settings Play on words which Oskar finds hilarious are lost and misunderstood by those around him Oskar's behavior in filling daybooks with events that have happened to him including other tragic events occurring before and after 911 take on a ritualistic uality echoing some of the characteristics shared by those diagnosed with Asperger's which is considered a sub diagnosis of autism It is a matter of degree not an exclusion from that diagnosisThat Oskar is unaware of the conseuences of his behavior on his teacher and his fellow students is clear In graphic detail he explains the results of the bombing of Hiroshima sharing a video interview with a survivor of the first use of an atomic bomb against a civilian populationThat Osckar's last name is Schell is a clever device used to great benefit by Foer For Oskar is a veritable Chambered Nautilus consisting of impenetrable chambers of secrets revealed only by gently bisecting the shell of a nautilusOskar's mother carries her son to be counseled by Doctor Fein who is anything but fine in his ability to reach Oskar and release him from all the fears held within him brought about from his father's deathIt is only through Oskar's discovery of one last mystery he believes was left him by his father to solve that Oskar begins to live outside himself and become engaged with people outside his immediate family that just might allow him to move forward from the prison of the loss of his fatheruite by accident Oskar spies a blue vase on the top shelf of his father's closet Stacking his works of Shakespeare in his father's closet Oskar stretches to reach the vase only to tip it off the shelf shattering it on the floor of the closet It contains a key with an envelope Written on the envelope is the word Black written in red inkOskar determines that the answer to his father's last mystery is the key and someone named Black Although the number of locks in New York City is mind shattering Oskar a child of the internet decides to track down all the Blacks in New York City in an effort to find the secret of what the key opensIt is this journey if anything that will allow Oskar to move beyond the death of his father and live his own lifeFoer in a display of brilliance introduces us to Oskar's grandmother and the grandfather Oskar never knew Thomas Schell for whom Oskar's father was named also is trapped within the memories of another terrible incident in Human history the firebombing of Dresden The elder Thomas although once capable of speech can no longer speak a word but communicates by writing in blank day books He disappeared before the birth of Oskar's father We learn of the elder Thomas's history through his letters to his unborn child and through his life with Oskar's grandmother who lives in an apartment building across the street from Oskar Oskar and his grandmother communicate by walkie talkies at all times of the day and nightIt is through the writings of the elder Thomas Schell that we experience first hand the horror of living through one of the great acts of inhumanity against man the fire bombing of Dresden during World War II by the Royal Airforce and the United States 8th Airforce from February 13 15th 1945 Those events leave Thomas Schell a man forever changedThe beauty of Foer's novel is the answer he provides in the resolution of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close We recover from the tragedies of our lives through the bonds we share with others This is the ultimate beauty of lifeWhile some critics and some readers find Foer's novel manipulative and cloyingly sweet I find it an affirmation of life To paraphrase Faulkner's Nobel Acceptance Speech it is through reaching out to others that not only are we able to endure it is the way we prevailThis is a solid 6 Stars literary masterpiece If it makes you cry take joy for the fact Foer reminds us we are human not only capable of acts of inhumanity but also capable of acts of great love and forgiveness


  10. BlackOxford BlackOxford says:

    An Abuse of ChildhoodTraumatic tragedy makes good newspaper copy especially when it involves children The combination of horror and sentiment seems irresistible But does it really serve for good fiction? I have my doubts at least in the case of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close I can’t be entirely certain because as with so much in my advanced age the book drags up so many childhood memories from my own sub conscious that I’m wary of my own judgmentMy psychological connection with Foer’s book is entirely coincidental but personally significant My name is Black a family name which gives the book its dramatic trajectory I was born in New York City and my family members could have been on the fictional list of several hundred Blacks from the telephone directory sought out by Oskar my grandson’s name with a ‘k’ the young protagonist who wants to know how his father perished on 911 My grandmother is buried in Calvary Cemetery which is I think where Oskar’s father is buried Secondly at the age of nine I too like Oskar experienced the trauma of an air disaster when a military bomber crashed into the house next door to my suburban home killing the three crew members in front of me This was in 1956 the plane was similar to that mentioned by Foer as crashing into the Empire State Building In 1945 None of this history occurred to me until I was halfway through the book suggesting perhaps that the historical facts might be tightly bound with their emotional residue than I had ever realized The line “Parents are always knowledgeable than their children and children are always smarter than their parents” stopped me short After the crash I recall feeling very distinctly that I knew much about it than the adults did despite their maturity I certainly didn’t believe their vacuous assurances that we were safe I was the expert on the matterNot only did I witness the crash including the pilot’s waving me off to take cover as the plane spun down but I also presumed to understand or at least feel much than my patents how dangerous it was to be alive it was indeed very loud and very close There had been three other similar incidents during the previous year; and one only a few months later that I witnessed from some distance I didn’t have the vocabulary or the argumentative ability to express the situation but I knew with certainty that this was not an intelligent place to call homeThe nearby Air Force facility was a hive of Cold War pilot training The aircraft were all WWII bombers and transports And the crews were part time reservists So not perhaps the most experienced flyers in the service in euipment long past its retirement date what could go wrong? We lived under the approach path for the main runway I was acutely aware of the Doppler sound of every plane in the sky and literally held my breath until those I knew were landing passed overhead The weekends were worst when there was a continuous stream of touch and go landings for the Flying Boxcars vehicles as antiuated as their name suggested well into the nightLike Oskar I can remember that “I needed all of my concentration for being brave” Particularly since no one else in the house took the situation seriously I did not succeed My fear was as intense as Oskar’s as he stood on the observation deck of the Empire State Building “the whole time imagining a plane coming at the building just below us I didn't want to but I couldn't stop” And just like Oskar I felt myself “an obvious potential target” for many months even years afterAt some point the fear attenuated or was sufficiently repressed to allow a reasonably normal life And within several years the base was closed for safety reasons someone was listening even if it wasn’t my parents But the psychic effects lingered consciously as a sort of vague resentment for the imposition of unrecognized suffering; and I’m sure unconsciously in a variety of minor neuroses But I find myself even than six decades later resonating with a comment by one of Foer’s other characters “The end of suffering does not justify the suffering and so there is no end to suffering”And that I suppose is the rationale for ‘trauma fiction’ The event itself is news The cause of the event is documentary rapportage The conseuences of the event are where fiction is necessary Strict rationality succumbs to emotional necessity There is no cause and effect only complex interactions of unresolved suffering This arises from the event itself and from all the other tragic events that persist in memory and physical conditionsSo it is proper that Foer connects 911 to Dresden and Hiroshima and the Holocaust as well as to the ‘routine’ accidental and natural deaths we all experience There is an ecology of tragedy which links them And I think it’s appropriate to consider the aftermath of 911 in terms of what is an irrational and essentially senseless search for the precise nature of a death which can’t even be documented Even Oskar knows that “The I found the less I understood” about his father when he was alive But he feels compelled to continue the task Death gives us a reason for searching if for nothing else for its meaning Not having something to search for is worse than death Death in its own way provides hope If I read Foer correctly this is his theme and a rather interesting oneWhat I am less sure about is the use of a child’s perspective Oskar in addition to his trauma is somewhat autistic This gives him an aura of vulnerability But he is also highly articulate and charming traits which carry the narrative along with considerable wit and even humor The problem is that the two characters are contradictory even if Foer tries to smooth over the joins Oskar moves in and out of these two personas even jumping into a third occasionally as a juvenile sage who advises the various failing adults This is jarring and doesn’t contribute to the narrativeThis choice of an immature protagonist is I think a mistake It does create a story that sells but not a believable character At least I couldn’t have possibly done what Oskar does and says at the age of nine He seems a sort of portmanteau childadult Children no matter how clever they are do not think and act like Oskar like planning an carrying out an exhumation Often he’s an adult in a child’s body doing therapeutic work which can only be engaged in after substantially experience Children are hopeful by instinct; they are instinctive searchers But they don’t philosophise about it It is adults who have to be reminded that searching is the essence of living Oskar is in short a fantasy not a fictional character an abuse of childhood but an instructive one I had been standing approximately 15 feet behind where the two fireman are in upper right of the photo when the plane struck close enough to see the faces of the men in the cockpit


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