Clearly at home

Jonathan Safran Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" (Harcourt)

Before I start, I'd just like to say that my new position grants me this special ability by which I can disappear after 5 whenever there isn't anything on and return before midnight. 'Whenever there isn't anything on' for now kinda has the same meaning as 'everyday' (should hear about my past two days). So yea ^^.

But damn I have guard duty next wed.


Just finished 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' (no I didn't peek at the end), and I must say I feel a little...disappointed?

Not to say it wasn't a good novel, it was a a really really good book, a great book actually. It just was kinda disappointing because it wasn't legendary, and it started off by giving me the impression that it was going to be legendary.

I guess it's sometimes really all about expectations isn't it. I thought paddy clarke was awesome. I started off thinking paddy clarke was going to be boring as hell but when it turned out to be so good, I was delighted. Extremely loud and incredibly close actually cleanly kicks paddy clarke's butt, but I don't have as much enthusiasm for it because the former went from a 5 to an 8 and the latter from a 9.5 to 8.5.

So let me tell you about the start:

I compared it to paddy clarke for a reason, it is based around the life of a the child narrator who tells the story in first person. Its like, impossible to not melt at how cute and innocent a genius Oskar is at the start kay. His little musings, perceptive thoughts, they all create this amazing character as we see the world through his eyes. That really got me going. Then came the second 'chapter' which was not from Oskar's perspective (and then I discover that through the book there are three narrators but they only ever tell you about kid) and that chapter was so darn good, it should have been a short story by itself.

Part of the reason why the second chapter was good was because it introduced a very creative way of storytelling. The author draws the reader into the experience, and this was one of the many that would soon be introduced (yes I saw the colours heh). Then there was the second time the narrator from the second 'chapter' came in and that one too was so poignant, so brilliant.

The novel continues to be brilliant, I died at the Hamlet play ('Succotash my cocker spaniel, you fudging crevasse-hole dipshiitake!'), and then about two thirds in, it started to feel gimmicky and draggy. The feeling of 'we've been through this before' and even though it brings new revelations (quite a fair bit of which I guessed would happen already anyway), it started to feel like it wasn't going anywhere. I understand that the book is about loss, the trauma of it, and how they can't quite deal with it. Yet unless the point was to repeat the same thing in different ways until I got really tired of it so that I could relate to people who are trying to help those deal with a loss and are getting really tired of it, then I feel it was getting a tad bit too much.

I was really getting tired of the third narrator and Oskar's search (which I pretty much could tell what was going on and predict how it was going to end already its kinda obvious). Second dude is still a legend though heh.

So finally the novel came to its conclusion, which might have left a bigger impression on me if not for the fact that towards the end I was starting to get tired of the book. And yesh I was right about the ending ^^.

Despite this review having put down the novel somewhat, I must say that I really really enjoyed reading it. I'd remind you that its an 8.5 and the review probably sounded over negative because I was really hoping and expecting it to be a 9.5 and hail as the best book ever. I did finish it in two days and its pretty thick kay.

So do grab a copy and go read it! And resist the urge to flip to the back and look at whats there, don't even glance at it because a glance is all it takes for it to be a spoiler.


Anyway, over with the book and back with life.

I've been through quite a bit so far. I remember how it was like back in the days at the 5th. I had not decided then whether I wanted to go to command school, but I remember that eventually one of the key reasons why I made the decision to go for it was because I resolved to be someone who would change the system, to be different. And from that point I saw myself in the future, taking on the role that the they did, but being a good Christian commander, a light, a positive influence.

Then it was over. Maybe I spoke to you before, about how I wanted to go back to that place. I had that fire in me, I knew that the position of authority they had, if used right, can be a truly powerful tool, but I mentioned that there would be costs. I spoke about my path there, how it could really happen, and deep in my heart I felt a call that I was afraid to obey.

And foundation was over and posting came, and how I just knew it was going to happen, because you can't run away.

And how I endured and fought and lost so much, was beaten down so much in professional, how terrible it all had been, and all the time I faced the question, the choice, and I prayed as sought for an answer and I started to veer away from the risky to the safe like how I normally do and eventually made a choice. And I remember how I sought for advice, and in particular the advice of someone I trusted.

And I made then what I believed was to be the cowardly choice, and convinced myself that I was probably overthinking my initial zeal, but I could never quite shake it away, there is something in it, I know there is.

But things changed and I no longer had confidence I even had a choice, and I thought to myself, there is no running away, and when God wants you some place, you will be some place, and I anticipated, I waited for the results to come out, stressed out, not sure how it would be, fearing for the worse, thinking it was either between that or the thing I tried to run from multiple times (which would have been a relief then). I didn't even consider other options, until a few minutes before, then I thought, what if... and I was shocked.

And then I come here, I have not been thinking about it, putting it as a phase I left behind, determining to do my job here well since I'm here, believing that if God placed me here despite everything, he must have a reason, I just may not see it yet. It is a good place, an excellent place really and it is a position of influence.

But its not a position of influence like the other. I wondered of my dreams and what I felt as a call to me. I wonder if I had run away.

And then he came, the one who I asked advice from back then. Perhaps I don't think in humanly terms I deserve to be chosen, but he must have remembered what I said, he must have heard my heart. 'Join me, we're embarking on something new' he said. And he explained it simply and I understood it simply and everything lit up and the whole world made sense and I realised suddenly the depths of what it means to trust God when you don't see the full picture yet, how I had to run, but not away like I thought I was but towards, how I had to fight, how I had to fall, how I go through enough to look back and tell myself 'this must go on no further', how that determination is necessary all the more from this point on and how I didn't overthink but I had actually underthinked and how everything just falls into place is not just excellent but Perfect and how I wasted all my times weighing pros and cons when if I was ready and willing God would simply create something new that was better than existing options, and now I stand amazed and can only be silent before Him because I know that all my words and thoughts and everything I tried was silly and laughable and how I worried myself when in His Word we were told we need not worry and now I knew it really had not been necessary to cringe and I know that though there may still be some difficulties ahead, but I feel like it doesn't really matter at all now because nothing can stand against.

I'm afraid its all a dream, that tomorrow they'll say 'oh you're scrapped', or if it doesn't turn out well and the whole thing gets scrapped. Or that I'm really thinking too much about the whole thing, being emotional and all. But honestly, sometimes when things go too well I get afraid, and it really isn't necessary. By empirical reasoning, I think it'll stand.

And its groundbreaking. Maybe a year and a quarter might well be too short. We'll see, with spirit and not with flesh.