I rushed out of the house last night with my husband with the vague idea that I could end up having quite a bit of time to kill with little available entertainment that evening. The book I picked up to solve this potential tragedy was Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
I had previously started his debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated, perhaps a year or more ago, and though I remember liking it, for some reason I stopped about halfway through and never went back. So I had been eyeing ELaIC at the bookstore ever since it hit paperback but too guilty to buy it since I'd never even finished the other one! I just gave in to buying it a few days earlier this week.
EII fell victim to one of my recent neuroses: for the past few years I have had a difficult time finishing books. I still love books and love reading, but for some reason I always find myself much hungrier to open a new book than to pick up the one I've already started. I probably start 4 or 5 books for every 1 book I actually finish. And I only finish as many books as I do because of a rigid determination to finish books selected for my two book clubs and a lot of rushed reading the day before those meetings. In my own mind I call this "disease" of mine RADD (Reading Attention Deficit Disorder). You know, because it amuses me.
Half the books I do finish are selections for the two book clubs to which I belong. The other half are RADDicillin. After reading 80 pages of ELaIC last night, it was already clear that it is definitely RADDicillin. I am completely enraptured with the main character, a sad and precocious nine-year-old named Oskar whose father was killed in the twin towers on 9/11. Some of the elements that make him so compelling I suspect if I repeated here out of the context of the book would seem trite and/or so overly quirky that they are almost desparate author attempts to make Oskar unique. Oskar plays Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" on the tambourine and describes when he feels sad as wearing "heavy boots." And Oskar is very sad since his father's death. The author's voice, though, through Oskar and Oskar's father (as Oskar remembers him) speaks of so much to which I relate and not only that, but to which I feel my husband would relate and somehow makes me feel closer to him though he has not read the novel and likely never will.
I bet you dimes to donuts that I finish ELaIC and do so within a few days. Thanks, Mr. Foer.