From this John Updike review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, a quote by T. S. Eliot:

There’s no vocabulary
For love within a family, love that’s livedin
But not looked at, love within the light of which
All else is seen, the love within which
All other love finds speech.
This love is silent.

I don't know how other people experienced 9/11, but it was never a memory of grief for me. A bit of fear is all. So I don't know how Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close reads to those who experienced it firsthand.

At the risk of being insensitive, (I wasn't there for 9/11, I didn't lose anyone in 9/11, I have little emotional attachment to 9/11, John Updike is recently dead) I really appreciate Updike's review because he didn't just flat-out OH HELL NO Jonathan Safran Foer. I can understand why the usual critique is that JSF is a talented writer who uses too many bangs and whistles, but has it occurred to these people that this is the kind of writing we grew up with? And that there is nothing in writing this way that suggests this post-modern playing with text and visual cues is an attempt to dismantle the novel? The novel has been dismantled. We're over it.
I just think that stream of consciousness is a really effective mode of emotional expression (well, duh), and JSF knows how to use his run-on sentences and photographs and blank space.

And I don't think Oskar is meant to be another Holden Caulfield. Holden is lonely and lost as hell. So is Oskar, but Holden's, you know, a man-child, stuck, on the verge of adulthood/the real world, he's the disillusioned college students' antihero. Oskar is a 9-year-old kid. I DON'T KNOW! I was a precocious kid. Oskar isn't supposed to be real, you guys. His grandparents aren't real. Are we reading a fictional book, or what? Then again, maybe this book makes no sense to New Yorkers. I wouldn't know.

So his novel uses pictures and weird type and (oh hell no!) different colors of ink. You know what? So do bloggers. It's just another way to engage your reader. With "new media." You know.

Maybe it's a today's-young-people symptom (syndrome?). Like our ability to consume vague sayings in lowercase helvetica and consider them profound, or like crafting a persona on Facebook, or deciding which parts of our lives are important enough to make it to twitter, or to our blogs, or our micro-blogs. Which is why I can pick up Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and feel like I have had alcohol rubbed into every emotional wound I have ever had and be thankful for it because I have never let it out.

I don't know. My childhood was fucking lonely. I relate to Oskar way more than I ever did to Holden. Sorry, Salinger, I wear heavy boots more often than I wear a people-hunting hat.

I suspect the harshest critics of JSF are, perhaps, at least a generation older.
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