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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Flashy And Sentimental

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer

In the Guardian this novel about a boy whose father was killed in the Twin Towers attack was parodied as 'extremely pretentious and incredibly annoying' and there's some truth in that.


Jonathan Froer is a tremendously talented writer but his talent lies chiefly in his ability to play with words, to construct voices and to string together ideas. What's missing are believable characters and a proper plot.


The protagonists are ideas about people, rather than people; the plot circles aimlessly, reproducing endless variations on the emotional damage individuals suffer as a result of external catastrophe but adding no great insight except for the rather hackneyed conclusion that it's always important to say I love you because the person you love may not be there tomorrow. As a result, you get to the end of this novel impressed but unsatisfied. It's flashy rather than moving, sentimental rather than powerful.