Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Overview

Foer's second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was long-awaited after his highly praised first novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Some critics enjoyed the second novel, especially the nine-year-old narrator and Foer's ability to breath life into his characters.  However, other critics have written that Foer's second novel is a reflection of his first. Those critics found some of Foer's departures from tradition to be "gimmicky" and they still do not care for the gimmicks.

Positive reviews include that of Matthew L. Moffett, from the School Library Journal. Moffet finds Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close to be well written, particularly the ending. Moffett writes that Foer's second novel has "a powerful conclusion that will make even the most jaded hearts fall." Foer is able to write about heart-wrenching tragedies, many critics pointed out, without falling into sentimentality. Olivia Glazebrook, of London's Spectator, agrees: "This book is a heartbreaker: tragic, funny, intensely moving."

A number of critics have wondered about Foer's penchant for the tragic. Laura Miller, writing for the publication New York, explores a possible reason why Foer might be fascinated by tragedies. "What attracts Foer to these tragedies," Miller writes, "isn't so much their historical resonance as their emotional power." Miller references Foer's skill as a writer, agreeing with other critics that one of Foer's strengths is his ability to create sad characters without making them overly emotional: "He's drawn to pathos, but being a smart and self-conscious young writer, he's also painfully aware of the perils of sentimentality." An anonymous reviewer for Publishers Weekly offers a similar response, saying that Foer is "one of the few contemporary writers willing to risk sentimentalism in order to address great questions of truth, love and beauty."

Not all critics...

(The entire section is 527 words.)

Ed. Scott Locklear