Jonathan Safran Foer

Photo by Jay Muhlin

By now, you either love Jonathan Safran Foer, or hate Jonathan Safran Foer. The literary world at large loves him, has in fact called him things like “genius” and “brilliant,” and has anointed him with laurels enough to potpourri a Roman abattoir — the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, finalist status for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction, the Guardian First Book Award, et cetera, et cetera. Foer appeared on the scene (as a 20-something New Yorker Princeton grad) in early 2002, after traveling to the Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. The result of that journey was his debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated, featuring a protagonist named Jonathan Safran Foer, who travels to the Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. His latest (and second) novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, follows in the same postmodern, time-shifting, dialect-slinging, Dave Eggers–itized, mucking-with-reality footsteps of his first. This time he traces the path of precocious 9-year-old inventor Oskar Schell, who is on a quest to find a lock that fits a key belonging to his father, who was trapped in one of the towers that went down during September 11. Cat’s meow or too clever by half? No matter. The mark of true genius, as the man says, is the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts in one’s mind at the same time. Foer reads from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close on Monday, April 24, 7 p.m., at Dutton’s, 11975 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood. (310) 476-6263.

—Gendy Alimurung

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