The Life of Bon: October Book Club: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October Book Club: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


BON'S BOOK CLUB
OCTOBER: EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE



2013 Book Club Schedule
February:  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
March:  The Fault in our Stars by John Green
April:  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
May:  Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
June:  Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
July:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett
August: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
September: Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
October:  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
November: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
December:  We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver'

For those of you recently joining us, in January readers chose 11 books to read throughout the year.  We read one a month and  the last week of every month (usually a Thursday) we discuss the book and pretend that we are eating yummy food and drinking warm apple cider while doing it.  You can join in on any month, and if you miss a month and then read a month and then miss the next month that's fine too! Sometimes we won't all finish the book (I admit I never finished Life of Pi) but the point is that we all get together to talk book and rejoice that we have beautiful minds that let us read this stuff.

If you want to do your own book review but don't know where to start, here's some questions to get the ball rolling.  You can answer any or all, this ain't no freaking English classroom!

-Oskar is an unusually intelligent and sensitive boy.  Do you find him realistic as a narrator.  Is he sympathetic or annoying to you? 

-What is the purpose of the illustrations, scriblings, over-written texts etc.?  Why does the author use them.

-How do both main plot and subplot (Oskar's grandfather and the bombing of Dresden) interweave with one another?

-How did you feel about the ending of the book?

This book can be a bit tough to get through for a couple of reasons.  One of the main reasons is the organization of the book.  There are not always standard paragraphs or dialogue (some paragraphs literally go on for pages and pages) and sometimes it's hard to figure out who is talking.  In addition to that, the book shifts from Oscar's point of view to the letters written in his grandfather's point of view.  The grandfather's story unravels as the story goes and this can be kind of frustrating.  I don't really like trying to figure things out in books, necessarily, so for me at least it got annoying trying to figure out what the grandfather's stary was and how it all tied in.  These are some reasons why the reading might be tough.

A reason it might be easy is that there are pictures.  PICTURES!  I know some people say that they have found the drawings and illustrations to be gimmicky or confusing.  I am kind of indifferent to the pictures.  I certainly didn't think it was necessary to the plot but since they were there I looked at them.  I don't have a real specific reason for why the author does this except for that probably he likes to be edgy and hip and random pictures in the middle of his book seemed like a good way to do that.

As far as the content of the book goes...  the basic story line is beautifully tragic.  I love the idea of a nine year old boy scouring a great big city like New York to find clues about his dead who is now dead.  Something about that made Oskar so endearing to me.  He loved his dad so much- practically worshipped the ground he walked on.  It was hard for me to dislike a character who I saw in so much pain.  Perhaps I like Oskar because he both lost our dad so I kind of wanted to put my arm around him and say "Yes.  I will go on your treasure hunt with you to find everyone in NYC with the last name of Black.  Anything to help you grieve, buddy."

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is strongest in its ideas.  I love how many unique thoughts and interesting ideas are in the book.  One of my favorite things is when Oskar talks about inventing an ambulance that instead of a siren has a light flashing that gives a message from the person inside like "Goodbye! I love you! Goodbye! I love you!"  And we'd all have little devices that let us know if the person in the ambulance was someone we were close to.  Don't know why, but it's one of those ideas that always stuck with me.

Another idea I loved, "I invented a special drain that would be underneath every pillow in New York and would connect to the reservoir.  Whenever people cried themselves to sleep, the tears would all go to the same place, and in the morning the weatherman could report if the water level of the Reservoir of Tears had gone up or down, and you could know if New York was in heavy boots.  And when something really terrible happened- like a nuclear bomb, or at least a biological weapons attack- an extremely loud siren would go off, telling everyone to get to Central Park to put sandbags around the reservoir."

The strength of this book, I believe, is in the writing and the incredibly clever and creative ideas behind the writing.  The plot in and of itself is not that moving to me.  In fact, not much happens.  It's basically the story of a boy grieving.  All of the real action of the story takes place before the book does so the plot doesn't feel that strong.  But the nuances of languages and fascinating ideas make up for it.

Favorite lines from the book:

"It probably gets pretty lonely to be Grandma, don't you think?" "It probably gets pretty lonely to be anyone."

"She wants to know if I love her, that's all anyone wants from anyone else, not love itself but the knowledge that love is there."

"My life story is the story of everyone I've ever met."

"I wasn't having second thoughts, but I was having thoughts."

"It's a shame we have to live, but it's a tragedy that we get to live only one life."

"We spent our lives making livings."

"I put my hand on him.  Touching him was always so important to me.  It was something I lived for.  I never could explain why.  Little, nothing touches.  My fingers against his shoulder.  The outsides of our thighs touching as we squeezed together on the bus.  I couldn't explain it, but I needed it.  Sometimes I imagined stitching all of our little touches together.  How many hundreds of thousands of fingers brushing against each other does it take to love?"

"We were not rich but there was nothing we wanted."

"I regret that it takes a life to learn how to live, Oskar.  Because if I were able to live my life again, I would do things differently.  I would change my life.  I would kiss my piano teacher, even if he laughed at me.  I would jump with Mary on the bed, even if I made a fool of myself.  I would send out ugly photographs, thousands of them."

"It was late and we were tired.
We assumed there would be other nights.
I had never told her how much I loved her.
She was my sister.
We slept in the same bed.
There was never a right time to say it.
It was always unnecessary.
There would be other nights.
And how can you say I love you to someone you love?
Here is the point of everything I have been trying to tell you, Oskar.
It's always necessary."

Your turn!  What did you all think?  Have any of you seen the movie?  I heard the movie was awful and that the little boy who played Oskar is terribly annoying so I didn't watch it for fear of having the book ruined for me.  Good choice or no?

As always leave your thoughts in the comments or if you wrote your own blog post on it leave the link so we can check it out.

6 comments:

  1. "Another idea I loved, "I invented a special drain that would be underneath every pillow in New York and would connect to the reservoir. Whenever people cried themselves to sleep, the tears would all go to the same place, and in the morning the weatherman could report if the water level of the Reservoir of Tears had gone up or down, and you could know if New York was in heavy boots. And when something really terrible happened- like a nuclear bomb, or at least a biological weapons attack- an extremely loud siren would go off, telling everyone to get to Central Park to put sandbags around the reservoir."

    I found this quite endearing.

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  2. I'm so happy I found this! I did a review for this book a few weeks ago (http://mypostgradliving.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/book-review-extremely-loud-and-incredibly-close/)! I listened to it on an audiobook (which was really good) and had no idea that the book at pictures! So interesting how different ways of reading can influence reading. I think we have the same taste in books, so I hope you continue this next year! I also recently read Gone Girl and The Glass Castle and just picked up A Thousand Splendid Suns from the library a few weeks ago!

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  3. This was a beautiful review. Perhaps because it's about a beautiful book? I've never read "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," but now it's on my list. I think I would love it.

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  4. This is seriously one of my favorite books. I haven't read in in a few years but my favorite image from the book is when Oskar speaks about his heavy boots. We all have heavy things that we have to carry around and I think the image of having heavy boots it just so beautiful. I even wrote my own blog post on it a little while ago. LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!

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  5. This one is going on my GoodReads list.
    I'm really interested in everyone's thoughts on A Thousand Splendid Suns... I read it last year and had some pretty strong opinions myself. I'll be around for that review for sure!

    LittleBirdBlogs

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  6. Just barely finished this book- only a few months late- but I thought I would still leave some thoughts. Bonnie- you said most of what I thought of the book already. This book was extremely hard to get through. But I loved the stories of the boy and his dad and the grandparents' relationship. I feel like if you aren't a very empathetic person, you wouldn't enjoy this book very much. It is amazing how much some people suffer through in their lives. I thought it was sorta predictable about the key- how it wasn't really a scavenger hunt from his dad because it was all too farfetched, but I like how it all tied together in the end. I'm glad I read this book but like you said, I didn't love the organization of it or how the plot went in circles a lot of times. I enjoyed reading it though.... Thanks for running this book club so that I can find interesting and unique books like this one! :)

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