Let me break it down for you this way. I was on a hunt. The hunt for a good book. This was on a day when we needed to take the cat in for a haircut and the nearest place was a Petco in Bloomingdale. It was nearing the end of rush hour and I had just dropped my wife off at the place. I decided to walk to the nearby Barnes and Noble. It was one of those single-floor ones.
As I was browsing in the Literature and Fiction section, my phone buzzed. My wife was telling me it would take two hours for them to complete their work. So, she decided to join me. I thumbed through Pilgrim's Progress and a couple of Stephen Kings. They only had one Joseph Heller book. Then I stumbled upon Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathan Safran Foer.
We huddled into the Starbucks area and I began to dig in. I had a Brief Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald which I lost interest in and immediately moved to Incredibly Close. What a book! I had already covered six pages and I was completely engulfed.
I had seen the movie trailer and was interested in reading it.
As far as format goes, this book is unique. Books that stray away from the conventional format of a book are always a must for me. Ordinarily, a book is separated by numbered chapters and the paragraphs are justified left and right with all the proper indents for new paragraphs. Perfectly routine and traditional, wouldn't you say?
But, the books that do it differently (A Million Little Pieces, Blindness, House of Leaves), have just enough format chaos to grab your attention.
Quite often I was reminded of another book with a similar style. It was called The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time. Don't bother Googling it. Just buy it. Thank me later. It's just that good, folks. No pre-Google search needed to know its a book you will spend hours enjoying.
The story for E.L&I.C. follows the thoughts of Oskar Schell, an eight year old boy, fresh from the incident that changed his life. His father died two years earlier in the 9/11 attacks. Now, in an effort to distract himself from his grief, young Oskar is on a mission to find what a key unlocks in New York City. He found the key while rummaging through his father's closet. His father is described as a smart, patient man who provided many puzzles, riddles and critical thinking games for his son. The son has autism which usually prevents him from venturing out into the world and its clear that the father created these "reconnaissance missions" for Oskar's benefit.
Right off the bat, I'm a sucker for Father/son stories. Along the way Oskar faces his fears, establishes friendships and, in my opinion, truly finds what he's looking for. This is a deep poignant story that people need to read, preferably it should be offered up in high school as required reading. The story's theme is about being connected. Often, when we're busy with our gadgets and personal problems, we lose sight of the people we're passing by. In the grim face of tragedy, people seek to be connected. I don't often use the word Heartwarming but this story has to be defined that way. The ending is bittersweet.
Because the book was so good, I'm not going to rush to the theatres to see the movie. Not to belittle the credit of actors Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock but, why would I go see a movie when the book offered such a unique experience and accomplished much more than I was expecting?
I give this one 5/5 stars.
Here's the trailer. You be the judge. Book or Movie?
Which will you experience?