I read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer again this week and fell in love with it all over again.
I heard about the book from a fellow student in my Studies in Fiction class. I never did thank her for that, or tell her how much I loved the book. We were reading Pattern Recognition by William Gibson and Falling Man by Don DeLillo in class – two books that deal with the aftermath of 9/11 in New York. Emily did not like either of them (both of which I loved) and recommended EL&IC.
EL&IC is probably the most powerful, stunning, achingly sad book I’ve ever read – and I’m a fan of beautifully sad books. Some are more lyrical (The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy comes to mind), and some more profound (such as The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje) but this book allows you to experience the sadness of an 9-year-old boy who’s lost his father in the Twin Towers. It also touches on the losses his family experienced in WWII that are not so far removed from the present as you’d imagine. It is a map of heartbreak and guilt and loss that seemed abundantly human and intimately personal. I cried hard, more than once, and it helps me believe that personal redemption is possible and I can survive almost anything if this young boy can find a way to survive what happened to him. Everyone in the world should read it.