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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- ASIN : B003K16PXC
- Publisher : Mariner Books (September 3, 2013)
- Publication date : September 3, 2013
- Language : English
- File size : 28656 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 360 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #80,509 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Blinking away tears, self-consciously as the waitress brought my tea and hot sauce. I’d cackle, embarrassed to be caught weeping silently, alone in a booth while festive mexican polka blared around me.
I cried for the grandmother and her crummy eyes, for her blank pages and the words she put on them. For the weight she’s carried around for decades, anxious but stoic.
I cried for the lock and i wept for the key. For the words unsaid by the mother to oskar, letting him go out and find his way without making it a thing. And i cried for the father telling the mother he had made it out ok so she wouldn’t worry. A silly thing because the truth would come out, but helping her helped him in that moment before he died and that’s what needed to do, because he loved his family.
I really liked the book, a lot. It took a like a long time to finish because i’ve been incredibly busy and there aren’t but so many places i’m free to let water come out of my face without embarrassing myself without a stupid explanation. But i loved it.
And honestly i thought that i wouldn’t. Because i don’t trust anyone’s recommendations.
It’s been a long time since a book has made me cry so much. I think it was probably “Duncan Delaney and the Cadillac of Doom” which i read while drunk in one sitting, by an author i have never been able to find any information on.
The book is immensely funny where it is not heart-stopping emotional or just tragic. There are numerous characters of different kind used to show various good parts of humanity. And the little boy's simple way of describing them is extremely effective. Immensely likeable and caring grandmother and mother repeatedly take the story to lofty emotional heights before the unbelievably sad and still uplifting climax.
Notwithstanding all the other great things, the book absolutely shines when describing the father-son relationship. The five calls (and particularly the fifth) could not have been more chilling, well-placed and still so wonderfully warm.
The holocaust backdrop, the grandfather's simple muteness and even simpler ways of conversations, his obtuse ways of not putting behind the past, various Blacks' idiosyncrasies surround some amazingly tender, clever and poignant observations by the nine-year old. The loss/mourning engulfing the entire story is contrasted with the constant, highly clever and engaging humour spread throughout the book which is never out of place.
By Levi Durst on May 25, 2020
Top reviews from other countries
The author uses postmodern techniques like nonlinearity and intertextuality, and also visual effects (blank pages, color, broken text and a flipbook) which could be viewed as gimmicks but which I found surprisingly effective. Writing a story about these incredibly emotional and potent events is difficult to do in a plausible, effective fashion, but I think the author succeeds. It's not an enjoyable book, but it is a powerfully moving one.
Foer intersperses the writing with enigmatic photos that make you feel as though you are right there with the little boy, who is more believable than most child characters. There is a lovely mix of places and people, past and present. I loved the way he conjures up wartime Dresden in one chapter and takes you down all the characterful nooks of New York in the next. It's very sweet but incredibly well written and heartbreaking, to use a cliché, I couldn't put it down.
Oskar is one of the most interesting and engaging protagonists I can think of. He is not merely a curiosity - this is a character we really get to know and understand throughout this work as he hunts for the lock that will fit the key he has found in his father's closet a year after his death.
There were many poignant moments in this book, and it played masterfully on the emotions. Nevertheless it was not a trite weepy about the murder of a boy's father, nor a jingoistic romp through some kind of patriotic fervour. Those elements were almost completely absent in this book, and instead we had a private search for hope, meaning and love.
Stylistically this book is very much in the "contemporary" genre. That is a genre I often disdain because so often the books seem to be all about the clever writing rather than the story. This book has all kinds of experimental aspects, but in this case I think they come off nicely.
For instance, all the speech is jumbled together in this book. The normal rule is to start a new speaker on a new paragraph, but that is ignored here and we have a conversation taking place all in the same paragraph. This was extremely confusing to read and slowed me down quite a bit. Nevertheless as the narrator's voice was 9 year old Oskar, I felt it kind of made the point. Here was a narrator that just did not think like a normal 9 year old boy.
However things were not perfect with this book. The main problem was the grandparent's reminiscences that were running parallel in the book. These slowed down the story, and I was inclined to speed read through some of this. It was clear that the author was juxtaposing two different dark events in the story, so I can see why he put it there. However I think he should take a clue from David Mitchell's remarkable ability to change voice in a story and written the grandparents story back in a more familiar style. By clustering all the dialogue on single paragraphs in those sections too, I felt the effect of that literary device was lost.
There was also more experimentation with use of pictures, and other segments. For best enjoyment, do not read this book on a kindle, where some sections are unreadable, and where you miss the effect of the colour pages. The ebook looks good on an iPad, albeit missing the flickbook section at the end of the paper copy. I ended up reading a mixture of ebook and paper copies of this work.
All in all though, this was a great work. It richly deserves to do well, and should be remembered for a long time for the wonderful characterisation of Oskar alone.
Oskar being interested in science and quantum physics at this age is a way to explain to the readers that even though something horrible happened, there is no need to explain it in spiritual and godly ways, and even in ways that help heal. Healing isn’t a given, it’s actually one of the hardest stages to reach, so it’s ok that Oskar didn’t find solace in his father’s death, I think nobody would and nobody did.
Written through the boy's eyes, and utterly convincing, a beautiful work of fiction