Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 2005
Borrowed from my local library.
I have never wanted to read any fiction based around the incidents of 9/11/01 but, possibly because it has been ten years, felt it was time to read this novel.
This story runs through the pages like flashes of brilliant light, reflections from shards of broken glass. It is the story of nine-year-old Oskar Schell’s life two years after his father’s death at the World Trade Center. It is also the story of his Grandfather and Grandmother, other people he meets on his search for a lock that fits a mysterious key and the tragedies that flow through history.
Along with Oskar’s curious personality, his inventions and letters from Stephen Hawking, there are the images of Dresden and Hiroshima and the layered stories of lost fathers makes that one day a link in the chain of human events, places it in perspective. I found this novel so much bigger then that day, that tragedy, so full of hurt and heart and wild love. I want to thank Jonathan Foer for his words and to thank Oskar for his courage in the face of great loss.
In bed that night 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 would report if 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 attack – an extremely loud siren would go off, telling everyone to get to Central Park to put sandbags around the reservoir. from page 38.
Then, out of nowhere, a flock of birds flew by the window, extremely fast and incredibly close. Maybe twenty of them. Maybe more. But they also seemed like just one bird, because somehow they all knew exactly what to do. from page 168.
You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness. from page 180.
I am so glad I finally read this. Now I feel I am ready to see the film.