Amarillo gets “Incredibly Close” with Jonathan Safran Foer

By Jami Joiner

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Jonathan Safran Foer, author of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” came to Amarillo College Wednesday to discuss this semester’s Common Reader with students. He participated in a question-and-answer session and also gave a lecture at the Amarillo Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts.

When asked what his thoughts were on the criticism he’s received regarding the book’s visual writing, Foer said there is not a right way or a wrong way to write and that he certainly doesn’t want to persuade anyone otherwise. There also was criticism of the book regarding the time it was released, just four years after 9/11. When asked how quickly he began writing the book after 9/11 and if the attacks were intended to be the focus of the book, Foer said, “I was writing a book when 9/11 happened, but afterwards, the book changed into something else and the main character became Oskar.”

Foer’s preparation for writing a book isn’t much. He just simply writes. Foer said being from New York does affect his writing somewhat. He said it makes him who he is and that writing is a reflection of who you are. Because “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is the Common Reader this year, when asked how he feels about the book being required as college literature for students, Foer said, “Required things are usually bad, but I’m happy my book was chosen.” Foer said if there is one thing he wants students to take from this book or any book, it would be, “Something. I want it to change them somehow.”

Foer gave a lecture that was directed toward the students in the audience of the Globe-News Center Wednesday night. The focus of his lecture was, “Don’t change and change,” meaning change enough that it makes you succeed and learn and grow as a person, but don’t change so much that you lose sight or pieces of yourself. A further explanation of that focus from Foer was, “Always be yourself and always become something else.” Foer also commented more than once on how impressed he was that AC has the Common Reader program. He said there are so many things that are considered essentials in college, but he said he would even use the program.

“If I ran a college, a common reads program would be an essential,” Foer said. Education and reading were two main focuses of Foer’s lecture.

Rachel Segura, a journalism major, sat on stage with Foer and asked him questions regarding the book and writing in general. In a question regarding inspiration, Foer said, “I don’t believe in inspiration. I believe in work. It’s frustrating and you’ll feel dumb at times, but if you keep committing to the act, it will grow into something great.”

A number of AC students attended the event Wednesday night. Jacki Davidson, a nursing major, attended, but not necessarily by choice. The book was a required read for her class, and attending the event was extra credit. When asked if she enjoyed the book, she said, “I didn’t like how the book bounced back and forth, and it was a little tough getting into it in the beginning.” Zachary Metzger, a graphic design major, said he enjoyed the book. Metzger said the one thing that stood out most for him was the imagination of the main character, Oskar.


Published: Saturday, November 05, 2011

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