Posted by Melissa Baumgart
"That secret was a hole in the middle of me that every happy thing fell into." -Oskar Schell, 9 years old.
That's a powerful sentence. One sentence can make you feel so many things.
Oskar Schell is one of the main characters in the book I am reading this week, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer. It is currently in the movie theaters, and like the last book I read, is also up for an Oscar for Best Picture. In the past, I used to love movies that were taken from great novels, so I could talk with people that actually read books and sound like I knew a little something. Right now, after reading The Descendants and starting this book, I have different feelings about the book-to-movie phenomenon.
I think I only want to go and see The Descendants to keep the book alive, to relive it again without forcing everyone I know to read it out loud to me. Like Jamie was doing today, he even called me on my way to school to share a funny part. So sweet. And already only 80 pages into the "Incredibly Close" book (that's what I call it since I can never seem to remember the order of the title words. Sorry, Mr. Foer.) I agree with Amy, I just don't know if a movie could capture this book.
Amy shared with me that this is one of her all-time favorite books. She said it is revolutionary in it's format. But I think she used a smarter, more appropriate word, other than format. Style? Layout? No, but something to that effect.
So far, I adore Oskar Schell. His fears, his random thoughts, his creative inventions that cannot ever truly exist. They all make for a lovable kid, at least from the perspective of a reader. If he were my kid, I don't know if I would've had the patience for him day after day. How sad is that? That we often cannot see the magic of our own offspring because we don't have the perspective of the "reader", we instead have to make sure they are safe and fed and educated and all that parent-y kinda stuff.
Even in The Descendants, when the kids are saying outrageous things, I laugh. If my kids said things like that, I would feel obligated to tell them how wrong it was, or to punish them. Especially if some other, more parent-y kinda parent were standing there. Why can't we just laugh sometimes in real life? I don't know, maybe all this fiction is getting to me. Maybe I prefer it.
Maybe we let all the happy things fall into all the holes we create form our perceived pain, and we forget how to laugh. As a community, as a country, as a society. Why do we all have to behave so goddamn perfect all the time?
Poor, sweet, Oskar Schell, though. His Dad died. To lose your Dad as a young boy...that must be a pain that creates a huge, cavernous hole. I can't imagine him being able to laugh, for a while. Even at outrageous teenaged inappropriateness.