: Walter Kirn’s deftly devastating review of Jonathan Safran Foer’s book — the latest 9/11 novel, one that appears to want to be the cute one — was most entertaining:
Its title is ”Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” but it will also be known, inevitably, perhaps primarily, and surely intentionally, as that new Sept. 11 novel whose last pages include a little flip-book of video stills arranged in reverse order to create a fleeting, blurry movie of an actual human being careering upward through the sky toward the top of the fiery doomed tower from which (softheaded moralists will note, to the bafflement of hardened aesthetes) the flesh-and-blood person on the film was – in undoctored, forward-rushing fact – jumping or falling to his death.
Does a novel with such a high-concept visual kicker (and sensational book-club conversation starter) even need a title at all?
Does it even need text? …
And so it begins, and doesn’t ever stop – a rain of truisms, aphorisms, nuggets of wisdom and deep thoughts tossed off by Oskar and the other characters as if they were trying to corner a market in ironic existentialist greeting cards. ”It’s better to lose than never to have had.” ”You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” ”Everything that’s born has to die, which means our lives are like skyscrapers. The smoke rises at different speeds, but they’re all on fire, and we’re all trapped.” …
Once they’ve cracked open this overstuffed fortune cookie and pondered the symmetries, allusions and truths on the tightly coiled strip of paper, it will dawn on some readers that today’s neo-experimental novels are not necessarily any better suited to get inside, or around, today’s realities than your average Hardy Boys mystery.
I’m taking that one off my Amazon wishlist!
: Speaking of deft, I also enjoyed Kit Seelye’s lead in her followup on the latest new New York magazine. She lets Adam Moss paint his own self-portrait… or rather, self-parody:
There was no other word for it. Adam Moss was just gushing.
“I love magazines,” he was saying in his corner office in Midtown Manhattan last week. “I love them. And when I read them, I get very excited. They are emotional things for me.”
Mr. Moss has just clocked a year as editor in chief of New York magazine, and he was holding one of his lovelies, the April 4 issue. In the cover story, Bernard Kerik talks for the first time about his brief and disastrous nomination as head of the Department of Homeland Security.
“When you are transported into Kerik’s home, for the first time, as he turns down the job of homeland security chief and starts to cry because of the decision he has made, that to me is hugely pleasurable,” Mr. Moss said with a grin. “It gives you the pleasure of a great novel or a great nonfiction narrative book.”