Although I’ve been a proud CLUJ editor for half a year now, I was first (and always will be) an English major at heart. Now that I’m in my fourth year at Cal, these two identities have merged into a pleasant and fruitful mix of comparative analysis and the American novel. While I’m reading the capstone projects of students from around the world, I’m beginning to write my own little forty to fifty pager about my favorite novel, Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
Foer’s 2006 novel is an amazingly inventive, irreverent and bittersweet tale of a young boy’s struggle to heal after he loses his father in the World Trade Center Attacks. Though its plot premise fits quite cleanly within a nutshell, its narrative techniques are anything but. Foer uses images, letters, and additional narratives to complicate its themes, even offering “competing” testimonies whereby other victims of trauma voice their experiences. I could say more on this topic (and I certainly will!) but suffice to say, Foer’s story contains enough risky acrobatics to render it a beautifully messy masterpiece.
But what happens when you like a book too much? I first read this novel as a teenager, enrolled in a class just because it was listed in the syllabus, and since choosing it for my thesis have been (re)reading it ever since. It never stops; never ends. I look for threads of meaning in its postmodernist fabric, only to be stopped by a dead end. In times of desperation I’ve even had nightmares about this book and I don’t think they’ll stop until at least May. To make matters worse Stephen Daldry is coming out with a major film adaptation, which will only make my frustration more pronounced (how, for example, can a film translate the transgression between words and images like the text?)
It’s in these times of crisis when you kind of have to step back, take a deep breath, and remember why you liked the book in the first place. It helps to not always think about the book in terms of the THESIS, i.e. high-fallutin literary terms. Try reading it on a rainy day, with a cuppa tea in your hand. Or read for the plot, not the meaning. Open the book up and just start reading. It’ll all come back.
For more thesis-writing tips from our editors, click here.