June's selection: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer caused mixed reviews from our book club group. This is a different book than what we normally read--so if you are looking for "different" this book may be a hit for you.
Many of us may have gone into our reading with a preconceived notion about the book. Because the movie release (which preceded our reading) really hyped up 9-11, most were expecting more of the events of that day to be experienced in the pages--that notion kept a few from even cracking the book. If you are expecting a re-telling of the events of that day--you will not find it here. This is a story that sets 9-11 as a catalyst for the book. But I wonder if the same story could be told with a tragic death occurring any other way? I bet in many ways the story would not be changed. But because 9-11 is a day that affected so many of us so deeply--we wondered if the marketing of the movie and book was such that people felt compelled to watch and/or read. At least one reader found the book to be too gimmicky and found some of the images in the book to be in poor taste.
The novel is somewhat difficult to follow. Flashbacks, imagined scenes, and a lack of traditional dialogue make it difficult to follow the book at times. Some became distracted trying to figure out who was doing and saying what and why. Those who plodded through ignoring those distractions found that there was a payoff in the end and might find viewing the movie or giving the book a second read would be beneficial.
For a story that got mixed reviews leaning heavily to a majority not liking it at all, we still managed to have a thought provoking, at times enlightening discussion about the book. (That's why we love this group!)
We used questions from LitLovers for our discussion. If you've read along with us, choose a question(s) and leave your response in the comments:
1. Talk about Oskar--an unusually precious child. Do you find him sympathetic or annoying, or both?
2. For Shakespeare buffs: Oskar "plays Yorick" (the long dead jester whose skull Hamlet holds in his hand!) in a school production. What is the significance of that role? (See Hamlet: Act V, Scene I, Line 188).
3. Jonathan Safran Foer has said that he writes about characters and their miscommunication: some characters think they're saying a lot but say nothing; others say nothing but end up saying a lot. Which characters fall into which category in Extremely Loud? What might Foer be saying about our ability to communicate deep-seated emotions?
4. Some critics wondered where Oskar's mother is and how the child is left alone to wander the streets of New York alone at night. Is that a relevant comment? Do you see this book as a work of realism (in which case the mother's role would matter)...or as more of fable, on the order, say of Life of Pi? If the latter, what is Extremely Loud a fable of?
5. Do you find the illustrations, scribblings, over-written texts, etc. a meaningful, integral part of the work? or do you find them distracting and gimmicky? Why are they there?
6. How do both main plot and subplot (Oskar's grandfather and the bombing of Dresden) interweave with one another?
If you did not get a chance to read our selection you can pick up a copy in our STORE and check out our past selections for more Summer reading.
Our selection for July will be:
Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly. Pick up your copy HERE.