READ THIS! Updates and Reviews

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday! I hope you all had a wonderful evening and are looking forward to the rest of the week! Josh and I had a wonderful evening playing skeeball, shooting hoops and discovering the best arcade game ever - Flip2Win! Whether you hung out with friends, stayed in, or went out with your sweetheart, I hope you all had as much fun as we did!

It's February, and so for this month's READ THIS! book, I made sure to pick one that would pull at your heart strings!

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Have you all been reading along? Loving it? Hating it? Crying too much to get through? I know this is a heavy book, dealing with an incredibly heavy subject, but I do believe that the book addresses an important moment in our nation's history - from a viewpoint that many authors are unable to address it from.

As you make your way through Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I want to share some of its critical reception with you:

From Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times, "With his new book, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," 28-year-old Jonathan Safran Foer demonstrates the same high-flown ambition that brought his 2002 debut novel, "Everything Is Illuminated," bouquets of critical kudos but with decidedly more cloying results. [...] While it contains moments of shattering emotion and stunning virtuosity that attest to Mr. Foer's myriad gifts as a writer, the novel as a whole feels simultaneously contrived and improvisatory, schematic and haphazard. [...] [Certain] passages underscore Mr. Foer's ability to evoke, with enormous compassion and psychological acuity, his characters' emotional experiences, and to show how these private moments intersect with the great public events of history. Sadly, these passages are all too few and far between in what is an admirably purposeful but ultimately mannered and irritating novel."


From Laura Miller of New York Magazine, "The real Foer’s second and latest novel, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, shows that he hasn’t lost his taste for na├»ve or otherwise unreliable narrators. It looks at September 11 through the eyes of Oskar Schell, a weird, precocious 9-year-old whose father died in the World Trade Center collapse. [...] Despite this elaborate presentation, there’s a miscalculation at the heart of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: The death of a beloved parent will always be cataclysmic to a child, but the attacks of September 11 were also cataclysmic in another way, a way that can only be understood with the perspective and context that comes from an adult’s experience. Choosing a child narrator gives Foer access to extravagant emotions and quirky imaginings that would seem cloying or self-indulgent in a grown-up, but at the cost of allowing the central trauma its due. September 11 was a surreal intrusion of the spectacular and malevolent into the banal and safe. But for a kid like Oskar, reality has yet to be fully established, so surreality is impossible. How and why his father was lost matters little next to the raw fact of his disappearance. At times, you can detect Foer trying to adjust for this mistake, but he doesn’t succeed at the one thing that might have transcended it: conviction in his characters. [...] If their creator can’t quite manage to believe in these people, how can we?"


However, not all of the reception for this novel has been poor. It was received well by some critics and received an overwhelming level of support from individual readers, and was honored with a number of awards, including the New York Public Library's "Books to Remember" List, and earned a spot on the New York Times Best Seller List.


From Olivia Glazebrook of The Spectator, "So this is a book about loss, and about individual suffering amid (and following) cataclysmic events. From the very first page it is a hugely involving read; the voice of Oskar Schell is utterly engaging. His character is so beautifully realised, one would go with him anywhere. His grandparents’ letters are almost an unwelcome intrusion in Oskar’s narrative, but they do broaden the reach of the book beyond the complex miseries of its hero. Safran Foer is describing a suffering that spreads across continents and generations. [...] The book has whimsical elements — illustrations, photographs, the account of the Dresden bombing ‘corrected’ in red pen — which I could do without (I suppose they are a trademark of the author’s, since Everything is Illuminated was studded with similar gimmicks) but, all told, this book is a heartbreaker: tragic, funny, intensely moving."


And Lottie Moggach from the Financial Times stated, "I must declare myself: I loved Jonathan Safran Foer's new book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. This may not send teacups clattering to the nations' kitchen floors but in the literary world it feels like a stance worthy of a Bateman cartoon." Moggach goes on to further describe the novel as an "energetic, bold, funny and moving book." She also quotes two other reviewers, including the "quote from Salman Rushdie on the cover: 'Perhaps the highest praise I can give is to say it completely earns the right to take on the World Trade atrocity.' And a starry-eyed Baltimore Sun wrote 'It's a miracle, a daybreak, a man on the moon so impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving.'"


As I continue to read this novel, I find myself siding with the more positive reviews. How about you? Have you formed your opinions yet? Do you think Foer is full of himself or that he beautifully handles this difficult subject? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the novel as you're reading and cannot wait to share my thoughts with you at the end of the month!


PS. Don't forget to check back this afternoon to see how I made Josh's Valentine's Day card and for a chocolate chip oreo cookie recipe! 

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