Townhouse Books

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close : Jonathan Safran Foer

To my unborn child: I haven’t always been silent, I used to talk and talk and talk and talk, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, the silence overtook me like a cancer, it was one of my first meals in America, I tried to tell the waiter, “The way you just handed me that knife, that reminds me of__” but I couldn’t finish the sentence, her name wouldn’t come, she was locked inside me, how frustrating, how pathetic, I took a pen from my pocket and wrote “Anna” on my napkin. “And” was the next word I lost, probably because it was so close to her name, what a simple word to say, what a profound word to lose, I had to say “ampersand” which sounded ridiculous, but there it is, “I’d like a coffee ampersand something sweet,” nobody would choose to be like that. “Want” was a word I lost early on, which is not to say I stopped wanting things -- I wanted things more -- I just stopped being able to express that want. I lost “come” one afternoon with the dogs in the park, I lost “fine” as the barber turned me toward the mirror, I lost “shame” -- the verb and the noun in the same moment, it was a shame. I went to a tattoo parlor and had YES written onto the palm of my left hand, and NO onto my right palm, what can I say it hasn’t made life wonderful, it’s made it possible. “I” was the last word I was able to speak aloud, which is a terrible thing, but there it is, I would walk around the neighborhood saying, “I I I I.” “You want a cup of coffee, Thomas?” “I.” I know I’m not alone, you hear the old people in the street and some of them are moaning, “Ay ya yay,” but some of them are clinging to their last word, “I,” they’re saying because they’re desperate, it’s not a complaint it’s a prayer, and then I lost “I” and my silence was complete.

I was stubbornly uncharmed by the overall story for almost half of it, but found myself carried along enough by these amazing mini-stories. And then suddenly it all clicked and I couldn't wait to finish.

So basically, if the above paragraph moves you, I highly recommend this book. If not, then you’ll probably want to pass on this one.

Labels: ,

Search Worldcat


  • It would be nice to be able to communicate some other way than speaking sometimes in direct communication with a people. I don't know about the permanence of a tattoo on the hand... and what about maybe... I'll check it out when I get a second to catch my breath. ;)

    Congratulations on getting to that point. All too often I'll abandon something within a paragraph or too just because I'm not in the mood for anything that might be bad. Of course other times I'll read anything no matter what kind of trash it might be.

    By Jason, at 9:12 AM  

  • If it were anyone else posting, I'd say they were trying to imitate the style of the quoted paragraph. But... this is just how Jason writes.

    I'm still on the fence about this one. And frankly, I'm experiencing Foer backlash. Which is horrible (what, I shouldn't read a book just because everyone says the author's brilliant?), but nonetheless a factor.

    By lillygog, at 4:26 PM  

  • Yeah, I need to check this out. That's just the type of writing that I love.

    By bshort, at 12:11 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home