Saturday, 1 March 2014

Book clubs view of Extremely loud and incredibly close

A says: It was a select group at book club this evening but we managed a good discussion of this book and managed to watch the film adaptation of it together too! As ever there was disagreement about the book! So it was well written AND tedious, thoughtful AND formulaic, believable AND stretching credulity. I think we were all touched by the painful viewpoint of a youg boy on his fathers sudden death, and enjoyed the rush of relationships, chaotic happenstance and history that the book portrayed.
The film adaptation chose to concentrate solely on the main story and did manipulate things around to simplify and sentimentalise and tidy the plot. So the back story of Oscar's grandparents and the convoluted Black's tales were only lightly drawn. However it too was a moving portrayal of the distress and grief of this young boys experience. 
In both film and book none of us really believed the portrayal of the mother. The suggestion that she orchestrated or followed oscars journey, yet never positively intervening, was not one we could really accept. It seemed like the desperate act of an author who'd written a tale only to find a flaw it's basic conception and plugging this gap with a crudely thought out get out clause...

J says: Our book-group on IL+ EC by Jonathan Saffran Foer.

Last night, despite the outside attractions of the Northern Lights, apparently visible in the south of England, a warm fire, good company, wine and popcorn kept six and a half of us indoors. This was only half of our full book group, as two were so emotionally affected by the book that they didn't attend, two were off meeting literary folk at the Bath Festival, and one/half has post-India disease, possibly malaria.
It was a good group nonetheless, though less intense than it sometimes is. Friday evening finds those of us who work (three out of six of us at last night's group) pretty tired. No-one has ever fallen asleep and they didn't last night. Opinion was somewhat divided about how good a book it was, but not to the extent of arm waving or shouting. Certainly not as I see on Goodreads, where it is either rated 1 or 5! One of our book group, who is the most frequent offender for not finishing a book as he finds it too awful, said it was one of the ten best books he has ever read! 
For my thoughts, see my review in Goodreads

We moved straight on to watching the film, which thankfully is not very long. Everyone stayed awake for that too. The popcorn supply held out and there was tea and coffee, though no break, at 10pm. We found that the film simplified the story a great deal both its plot and emotional content. The plot had to be simplifie as there was too much without making it a very long film with a lot of explanatory dotting backwards and forwards in history. The emotions? Well, that was disappointing, and I don't know that it was necessary. One of the central aspects of the story is Oskar's relationship with his mother in the year aftermath of his father's death. All the way through the book one asks oneself: 'Where is she?'. 'Why is she letting her nine year old son be so independent, so ignored?' Then at the end, this is answered to an extent, with the reader allowed to continue to guess and fill in. The film didn't allow this, and put in a weepy cuddly-again scene between Oskar and his mother at the end. We are told that she knew EVERYTHING about him, had in fact been tracking him and arranging his life. Nothing was left to infer. Tidy, and perhaps how one might want a mother/son relationship to be. Not as Foer meant, I think, and just not believable from a practical point of view: how did this woman find the time to track her son about New York and work, without him noticing her absence? 
Never mind, it was a good film in its own right, and a good variation on our usual book group night.

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