Today’s experimental novels: like “pre-ripped bluejeans”?

Walter Kirn reviews Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close:

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. The avant-garde tool kit, developed way back when to disassemble established attitudes and cut through rusty sentiments, has now become the best means, it seems, for restoring them and propping them up. No traditional story could put forward the tritenesses that Foer reshuffles, folds, cuts into strips, seals in seven separate envelopes and then, astonishingly, makes whole, causing the audience to ooh and aah over notions that used to make it groan.


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