MOTIVATION for READING: I have been wanting to read this for a long time. The first attempt was a few years ago on a glorious day in early spring; the weather did not fit the book so I had to abandon. A second attempt was foiled for some other reason I do not recall but I would guess it was a question of my ability to participate fully. I needed my book club to choose this so I would be committed to sitting quiet and reading, not allowing any interruptions. I took it along on a flight from Boston to Omaha = perfect! The date (weekend of Sept 11) was appropriate, too.
Book discussion is this coming Thursday, Sept 23, directly following mandatory “Bullying Prevention Training” at the High School.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: A boy named Oskar who lost his father in the Sept 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center discovers a key in a vase on a high shelf in his Dad’s closet. He sets out on a mission to find the corresponding lock. He grieves, he questions his mother’s grieving process, he invents stuff in his head when he can’t sleep, he makes quirky friends along the way to find the lock that the key fits, and he wonders about love and life and loss. A corresponding story line that explains the boy’s grandparents’ relationship – or attempts to – is woven through the narrative. Also, I must add that we get to see the visuals and photos and pictures that correspond to what Oscar thinks about. One the whole, an extremely creative work of art.
FIRST SENTENCE(s): “What about a teakettle? What if the spout opened and closed when the steam came out, so it would beome a mouth, and it could whistle pretty melodies, or do Shakespeare or just crack up with me? I could invent a teakettle that reads in Dad’s voice, so I could fall asleep, or maybe a set of kettles that sings the chorus of “Yellow Submarine,” which is a song by the Beatles, who I love, because entomology is one of my raisons d’être, which is a French expression that I know.”
WHAT I LIKED: I loved the creativity. I marvel at the creativity of Mr. Foer.
WHAT I did NOT like: This is not a criticism – it is a notice: know that this book will require your attention and imagination and involve your heart and mind combined and entangled. It is involved. That is all, carry on. Oh, and it’s lighter than you might expect but still weighs heavy. Like earrings that look light and airy but are heavy in your hand when you pick them up and then tug at your earlobes.
More RANDOM thoughts: On page 33 is a quote that startled me until I realized that I had also written it down the prior two times I had attempted this book. But I still wonder if this is some great saying of old that I just can’t place: “The end of suffering does not justify the suffering and so there is no end to suffering.” Obviously, I have never taken a philosophy course.
Symbolism but not disguised symbolism: heavy boots.
I thought the morse code bracelet that Oskar made for his mother was amazingly brilliant.
I totally enjoyed the discussion and examples of how hard it is to write the word of a color in a pen ink not of that color! page 63.
I could not figure out how old Oskar was! I must have missed it early in the book. I’m not good at guessing ages.
On page 42 is a reference to a museum that has a space on the wall where a stolen painting used to hang. That museum is most likely to be the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. I recommend it.
On page 69, “It probably gets pretty lonely to be anyone.”
On page 47, “Sometimes you have to put your fears in order.”
On page 165, “Then, out of nowhere, a flock of birds flew by the window, extremely loud and incredibly close.”
For other odd thoughts I don’t want to forget but must warn about spoilers, click here.
Two things I took away from this book: 1) Cherish your loved ones every day. 2) Love is a highly active process.
RATING: Five slices of pie.
Finally, a photo of my dog Oscar who got hit by a skunk the other day and is now referred to as “Stinky-Face”: