I am a huge fan of this author Jonathan Safran Foer and his first book, Everything is Illuminated. Once again this a quirky book with a great cover, interesting type usage and photos... I was not disappointed.
Oskar Schell plays the tambourine. He also makes jewelry, collects coins, studies French, writes informed letters to renowned scientists, and obsessively invents. When we first meet the precocious nine year old narrator from Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, he is beset with another sleepless night of inventing:
"What about a teakettle? What if the spout opened and closed when the steam came out, so it would become a mouth, and it could whistle pretty melodies, or do Shakespeare, or just crack up with me? I could invent a teakettle that reads in Dad's voice, so I could fall asleep, or maybe a set of kettles that sings the chorus of 'Yellow Submarine,' which is a song by the Beatles, who I love, because entomology is one of my raisons d'etre, which is a French expression that I know."
Oskar's intelligence, sensitivity, and cultural awareness belies his young age, so much so as to garner Foer criticism for having built his latest novel around an unrealistic protagonist.
Sure, Oskar's consistent stream of brilliant deliberation makes his nine year old character a bit cartoonish, but it also makes Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close a fascinating catalog of ideas laid out in narrative form. And much more.
The novel is set in post-9/11 Manhattan, the tragedy in which Oskar lost his father, Thomas Schell. One year later, Oskar makes an odd discovery in his father's clothes closet: a small key in a tiny envelope upon which is inscribed the name (or word) "Black." Though hardly a smoking gun of any sort, Oskar finds in this discovery just the sort of diversion he needs to sustain him in his time of loss, to fill the void left by the loss of his father:
"I decided I would meet every person in New York with the last name Black. Even if it was relatively insignificant, it was something, and I needed to do something, like sharks, who die if they don't swim, which I know about." - By Mark Flanagan, About.com
If you enjoy unusual reads you would enjoy this.