Tag Archives: Jonathan Safran Foer

Literary Prose on Chipotle Cups

I don’t know about you, but I typically think of Starbucks when I think of fast-food joints that sell or use products with noteworthy prose written on them. Not Chipotle. But thanks to author Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), that all has changed.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the author got involved with the fast-food Mexican restaurant when he complained of being bored, explaining in an email to Chipotle’s CEO that there was nothing to read when he ate there. Apparently a famous author complaining via email to the CEO of a company is rather impactful. The CEO and Foer worked together and enlisted authors, writers, and comedians including Toni Morrison, Malcolm Gladwell, George Saunders, Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, and Bill Hader to contribute stories, essays, and other pieces — all of which have been printed on cups in Chipotle.

Foer told Vanity Fair that “what interested me is 800,000 Americans of extremely diverse backgrounds having access to good writing. A lot of those people don’t have access to libraries, or bookstores. Something felt very democratic and good about this.”

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Get ‘Everything Is Illuminated’ by Jonathan Safran Foer on Kindle for $8.53, Paperback $10.87

Jonathan Safran Foer is widely known for his novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which was made into a movie last year. I read Extremely Loud and didn’t enjoy it very much. When I dislike a big bestseller, I tend to do a lot of research to find out why people liked it. In my findings, I learned that many critics liked Extremely Loud, but still felt that Safran Foer’s first novel Everything Is Illuminated was better.

Everything Is Illuminated tells the story of a young man who sets out to find the woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather from Nazis. Like Extremely Loud, Everything was also turned into movie, starring Elijah Wood.

Now the bestselling novel is available for only $8.53 on your Kindle.

It’s also available in paperback for $10.87.

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Movie vs. Book: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Often times, we think the book version of a story is without a doubt better than the movie adaptation. For me, they’re often on the same level. But in the case of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I found the movie to be far superior to the novel.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close tells the story of 9-year-old Oskar, whose father has died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. Oskar sets out on a mission to locate the lock to a key he found in one of his father’s vases. The search brings him on a journey across the city — a hunt for something his father left behind, a mission to reconnect with his dad one last time.

Though I enjoyed the overall story of the book, I disliked the ending and had a lot of problems with the book’s subplots and characters. There are a number of details, characters, and subplots the movie left out entirely, and that’s why I think the movie is better. For instance, it eliminates the narration by Oskar’s grandparents and their backstory. I didn’t care about the grandparents in the novel. I found them to be unlikable and more of a nuisance than an addition to Oskar’s story. By eliminating that subplot from the movie, Oskar and his search are better developed. And let’s be honest; that’s the story we really care about anyway.

Another big change the movie made was deleting the character Mr. Black, who — in the book — explores the city with Oskar and makes sure he’s safe. Instead, the movie substitutes Mr. Black with Oskar’s grandfather. Though Mr. Black is one of my favorite characters from the book, I’m actually okay with the movie giving this role to Oskar’s grandfather. It allows them to build a relationship, and a grandson-grandfather relationship is far more important than a friendship.

Then there’s the ending. In the novel, the ending is heartbreakingly disappointing. After months of searching, Oskar finds out to whom the key belongs and what it opens. But he also learns it has no relation to his father. I remember feeling angry when I read the ending. But seeing it on film made me realize it was more about the journey than the end result. The movie and Sandra Bullock (as Oskar’s mother) also do an excellent job of portraying the moment Oskar’s mother tells him she knew what he was doing all along.  Up to this point, the reader/viewer thinks that Oscar’s mother must be completely self-absorbed and terrible. But when we learn that she made an effort to contact all of the people Oskar visits in his search, we realize how wonderful she is. Oskar and his mother have finally found a way to connect.

The movie also makes the ending more uplifting when Oskar finds a note from his father in Central Park. It was the final piece of a puzzle he had tried to solve before his father’s death. If I remember correctly, this discovered note was not a part of the novel. Though unrealistic, it gives Oskar closure, knowing he did, in fact, solve one of his father’s last puzzles. In the book, there’s no uplifting moment at the end. That’s why the movie is a beautiful look at relationships, family, and life’s mysteries, whereas the book is often times a depressing mess of emotions.

**Thomas Horn (Oskar) also shows off unbelievable acting chops for such a young age. His passion brought me to tears on multiple occasions and should not be overlooked.

Get Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with movie tie-in now for just $8.79.

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Get Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with Movie Tie-in for $8.86

It may not have been my favorite book but Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was a huge bestseller. And now the movie version is getting a lot of attention,  with Oscar nominations and a star-studded cast of Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.

The book tells the story of a young boy who loses his father in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. The boy struggles with the loss, but when he finds a key that his father left behind, he’s on a mission to find what lock it opens. The story details the journey of growing up and dealing with loss and pain.

I’ve yet to see the movie, but I’m interested to see how they portray the story onscreen. If you haven’t read the book yet, here’s your chance.

Get Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with movie tie-in for just $8.86, down from $14.95.

Or get it for your Kindle for just $7.03.

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Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Recap: In this post 9/11 saga, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close tells the story of 9-year-old Oskar Schell, who sets out on a journey to connect with his father, who died in the September 11th terrorist attacks. The two had a special bond; Oskar’s father used to give Oskar puzzles and tasks to figure out.

So when Oskar discovers a blue vase in his father’s bedroom with an envelope and key inside, he assumes this is one last puzzle his father left for him to piece together. Oskar is on a mission to discover what the key opens. The envelope says “BLACK,” so he starts visiting all the people in New York City whose last names are “Black.”Along the way he makes friends and keeps searching for something that will connect him to his dead father.

Oskar narrates these sections by including letters and photos. Additional narrators include Oskar’s grandparents. They tell the story of how they met, their marriage, their breakup, and so forth through letters.

Analysis: This story is a coming-of-age story told through a very manufactured setting. The 9/11 ties add elements of grieving and loss that make Oskar’s adolescent development all the more complicated. But his quest to find that last connection to his father is empowering and poetic. And the people he meets and relationships he forms along the way also add to the piece.

That’s not to say the book didn’t have its issues. The alternating narrations were an interesting idea, but they weren’t absolutely necessary. The faulty relationship between the two grandparents makes them unlikeable, and I found myself wanting to skip ahead to the portions about Oskar and his search for the lock. The search for the lock is what keeps the story moving. I was as curious as Oskar is about finding what the key opens. And though finding it is highly unrealistic, I felt the same hope he does about uncovering the gift his father left him.

But the end left me disappointed. And while the purpose of every story is to show growth in the main character, I don’t know if I feel as though Oskar has grown very much by the end of the book. And for me, that was another disappointment.

Overall, I would still recommend it. The book is an interesting mix of photos, letters, and narration. For me, the writing of the book was better than the actual content. Plus, it’s coming to theaters soon, starring Tom Hanks (as Oskar’s father) and Sandra Bullock (as his mother). See the trailer below.

MVP: Mr. Black. After Oskar meets him on his “Black”-seeking adventure, Mr. Black decides to join him on his visits around New York City. Oskar is so lonely, so for him to have a companion who watches over him in a fatherly way is beautiful to read about.

Get Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for just $10.

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