Fore is the middle son in a Jewish family. His mom was the daughter of a holocaust survivor and his dad was a lawyer. Growing up, Jonathan was always a little bit different. At the age of 8, he was injured in a classroom chemical accident that spiraled into a breakdown lasting about 3 years. During this time he wanted nothing more than to be “out of his own skin. ” Fore was inspired to start writing after he started his freshman year at Princeton University, when he enrolled himself into an intro to writing class.
His teacher, author Joyce Carol Oats, took an interest in his writings and told him he had “energy’, which she says is an important writing quality. Fore said she was the first person to ever make him feel like he should try writing in a serious way. After that, everything changed. Fore went on to win the Senior Creative Writing Thesis Prize and ended up dropping out of medical school to pursue a career in writing. He published his first book in 2002, “Everything is Illuminated”, which was a continuation of his senior thesis essay.
In 2005, he published “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” as a tribute to the devastation of the twin towers collapsing. In 1973, the World Trade Center was built. New York City was not the most desirable place to be. Prostitutes and pimps populated the streets along with an economic collapse and a crime-filled subway system. Normally when people think of the ass’, they think of disco music and funky clothing. The ass’ in New York City centered around danger, crime, and poverty. It wasn’t necessarily a place to brag about or feel proud of.
As the years went on, New York became the hotshot for up and coming artists, particularly of the “hip-hop” and “rap” genre. The dangerous feel from the ass’ faded, and by the late ass’ transformed into an exciting, fast paced city. That is one of the main reasons New York City became one of the most populated cities in the United States, home to an estimated 8 million people by 2000. Nearly 30 years later, in 2001, tragedy struck when United Airlines flight number 1 1, coming out of Boston, Massachusetts was hijacked and crashed into the north tower.
The Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda coordinated 4 errors attacks killing almost 3,000 people and caused at least 10 billion dollars in damages. What was once a highly populated, lively city was now the center of mass destruction. After this immense tragedy the nation came together as a whole. A feeling of patriotism arose from the American people, and no one had ever been more proud to be an American. Pre-9/11, no one was rooting for war. In fact almost everyone was extremely against it.
However after the terrorist attacks happened, everyone was pushing for it. In 2005, Jonathan Saffron Fore published “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”. The story begins after the tragedy and is narrated by a 9- year-old boy, Oscar Shell, whose father died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Since his father’s death, Oscar struggles with insomnia, panic attacks, and depression. He refers to this feeling throughout the book as “heavy boots. ” One day, while snooping through his father’s closet, he finds a key in a vase.
The envelope with the key enclosed has the word “Black” written on it. After careful speculation, and help from the manager at a local supplies store, he concluded that “Black” had to e a last name. He sets out on a Journey to contact everyone in New York City who has the name black- in alphabetical order. One of the first people Oscar meets is named Baby Black and instantly befriends her. Though she has no information regarding the key, he continues his search with “the renter”, who we later find out is Okra’s grandfather.
Eight months of searching go by until Oscar receives a voiceless from Baby confessing she was not entirely honest with him, and thinks she can put him in touch with someone who might be able to help; Her ex-husband, William Black. Oscar learns from William that the key had almost no significance to his father besides the fact that the vase was sold to him with the key accidentally at the bottom. Furious, he destroys everything having to do with the search for the key.
We find out later that Okra’s mother called every person with the name “Black” in the area to warn them that Oscar would be knocking on their door. This explained why the “strangers” were always so friendly and welcoming. It also explained why his mom never questioned his whereabouts. One of the first things someone might discover fete researching Offers background is the similarity Fore and his main character share. Just like Okra’s depression and panic attacks, Fore suffered from “something like a nervous breakdown drawn out over about 3 years” (Solomon, D. At the age of 8. One might view Oscar as a fictional, abstract version of Fore. During an interview in 2005, Jonathan described himself as a child using the words “flamboyant” and “sensitive”. Both of these adjectives could also describe Okra’s character, along with the words/phrase “inventor”, “clever”, and “beyond his age”. Initially, I viewed the kook as another fictional story with hidden messages and themes, nothing special. It wasn’t until I understood the time period in which the story took place in that I could fully appreciate the gravity of the novel.