Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (hereafter referred to as ELIC) is an extraordinary book by the very talented Jonathan Safran Foer. I was anxious to read it now as the movie, starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, is about to be released.
It tells the story of Oskar Schell, a young boy whose father has been killed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. Oskar is an unusual and precocious child who was close with his father.
In his late father’s closet, Oskar discovers an envelope with the word Black written on it. Inside the envelope is a key. Oskar sets out to discover what lock the key opens. He believes that Black is a name, and sets out to question every person named Black who lives in New York City. This quest takes Oskar all through the five boroughs where he meets a wide range of Blacks.
Interspersed with Oskar’s story is that of his paternal grandparents, who survived the bombing of Dresden in 1945 ( if you’ve never read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse- Five, now is the time).
ELIC is a complex and interesting novel. Although Oskar is the most finely drawn character, the others are interesting as well. I read this on my Kindle, and the only caveat I have is NOT to get the Kindle edition. There are drawings and creative use of printing (blank pages, very tiny cramped writing) that are just confusing on the Kindle.
Published in hardcover-Houghton Mifflin-2005
Softcover edition-Mariner Press-2011