Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close

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It is rare to discover a book that has the ability to touch on your personal life and make you reflect back on the choices you have made. It is even rarer when the book carries with it a strong enough impact to change the way you view the world, your personal decisions, and your way of life. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is the only book that has enlightened me in such a way. If any other author tried to write the same story, the end product would not be as intense. Foer’s use of language, repetition, humor, and despair tie together to make an incredibly powerful novel.
One way that the author is able to intensify his writing is through the use of repetition. This is a unique use of language that is very effective. The most powerful example of this technique is in the passage written by Oskar’s Grandmother:

Planes going into buildings. Bodies Falling. Planes going into buildings. People
covered in grey dust. Bodies falling. Buildings falling. Planes going into
buildings. Planes going into buildings. Buildings falling. People waving shirts
out of high windows. Bodies falling. Planes going into buildings. (230)

Having to read those few words over and over again had a bigger impact on me than any descriptive language could have. To me, it represents the constant replay in my head of the events of 9/11. The image just keeps coming, and it doesn’t stop, and it won’t stop.
The events of 9/11 are used as background information in this novel, however the main focus is around losing a loved one. In this respect, it is all too easy for me to be able to relate to Oskar. This past August, a good friend of mine passed away from a car accident. It was devastating, and is still extremely hard to cope with. I play back the day all the time in my mind. This tragic event makes me understand why Oskar is on a constant scavenger hunt to find the lock to the key. I don’t think it is simply because he wants to stay close with his father, I think it is also that he wants to recover his father’s legacy, and replay the life that his father led.

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I have realized that when someone dies, you take the time to reflect on the life that they led. Kat was a great person who cared for others. She was always herself no matter what people thought, and she was a very dear friend to me. When Oskar heard the phone ring on 9/11, he was unable to pick it up, not knowing that it was going to be the last opportunity he would ever have to talk to his dad. He carried this weight on his back for many years, only letting it get heavier. I too have “heavy boots” about the last time I could have seen Kat. The last time I was supposed to see her we had made plans to meet at the beach. I had gone to the beach with my friend Megan, and that day Megan did not want to sit with Kat because she was irritated with her. As an effort to avoid an awkward situation, I decided to just not call Kat. Unknowingly, that was the last opportunity I would ever have to see her. The day that I found out about her death, I went to her parents’ house. They let me up in her room, and I found a pair of earrings that she wore all the time. Her parents let me take them as a reminder of her wonderful spirit. The following day, I got a tattoo on my foot of a peace sign. The tattoo of the peace sign means to me what the key means to Oskar. I feel as though it keeps me close to Kat, and she will always be with me. However, just as Oskar’s Grandmother said in the novel, “Forty years of loving someone becomes staples and tape.” (230). I carry Kat’s earrings with me everywhere, but they are only physical things, just as the staples and tape are only physical things.
This book touched on another, more difficult topic for me: the topic of my dad. In the novel, Oskar lost his father, and was having an intensely difficult time moving forward with his life. Once he found the Mr. Black that possessed the matching lock to the key, we discovered that Mr. Black had too lost his father. The difference in Mr. Black’s situation is that he was not very close with his father, whereas Oskar was exceptionally close with his father. When I was 2 years old, my parents got divorced, and I saw my dad about once a year. 2 years ago we had a fight, and I have not talked to him since. Reading about the relationships Oskar and Mr. Black had with their fathers made me reevaluate the relationship, or lack thereof, that I have with my dad. As I continued to read about loss, and relationships, and tragedy, I decided that I would give my father a call and try to rebuild our relationship. So far it is the best thing that I could have done.
This book was an emotional journey from start to finish. I found it to be hysterical, yet it also possessed the power to be full of despair and tragedy. It changed the way that I think about relationships and dealing with loss.
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