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AUGUST 25, 2008 5:20 PM

Precocious 9-year-old Vegan Protagonist Seeking Broader Readership
Noodles and Moles have both recently devoured and raved about Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close--a book about a young boy struggling to deal with the loss of his father in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. I am now on page 46 of the novel myself, and though I am considerably bitter about the fact that its author, three years my junior, already has two best-selling books to his credit, I am nonetheless finding his brainchild, the fictive 9-year-old Oskar Schell, to be entertaining company.

The Inimitable Oskar Schell
Who wouldn't want to spend a little time with a kid whose business card reads as follows? "OSKAR SCHELL: INVENTOR, JEWELRY DESIGNER, JEWELRY FABRICATOR, AMATEUR ENTOMOLOGIST, FRANCOPHILE, VEGAN, ORIGAMIST, PACIFIST, PERCUSSIONIST, AMATEUR ASTRONOMER, COMPUTER CONSULTANT, AMATEUR ARCHAEOLOGIST, COLLECTOR OF: rare coins, butterflies that died natural deaths, miniature cacti, Beatles memorabilia, semi-precious stones, and other things. EMAIL: OSKAR_SCHELL@HOTMAIL.COM; HOME PHONE: PRIVATE/CELL PHONE: PRIVATE; FAX MACHINE: I DON'T HAVE A FAX MACHINE YET."

The Gimmicks Abound, But the Fun's There Too
Foer's "neo-experimentalist" style (replete with sentence fragments, blank pages, stream-of-consciousness narration, and even a flip book) may annoy some readers (for instance, the folks at Yankee Pot Roast). But if you're willing to indulge some vaguely Dave Eggers-ish, somewhat McSweeney's-esque pomo pyrotechnics, and you're intrigued by the prospect of a novel with a young vegan protagonist ("General Tsao's Gluten" makes an appearance as early as the first chapter), then check this one out.