Meaning over Mere Gimmickry: Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” and the Contemporary Illustrated Novel

By Ross Watkins.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Much academic discussion of Jonathan Safran Foer’s illustrated novel “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (2005) centres on the role and pertinence of its visual content to the novel’s thematic exploration of the trauma associated with the catastrophe resultant from the World Trade Centre attacks. With respect to the historical development and characteristics of the illustrated novel genre, this paper explores the mechanics by which Foer’s word and image combinations engender a complex form of meaning-making, establishing “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” as an exemplar of visual narrative practice which may be applied in principle to other works of prose literature incorporating the image as an integrated element, contributing meaning over mere ‘gimmickry’.

Keywords: Jonathan Safran Foer, Illustrated Novel, Visual Narrative, September 11 2001

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.107-114. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1011.611KB).

Dr. Ross Watkins

Lecturer in Creative Writing, School of Communication, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maleny, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Ross Watkins is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. His Doctoral novel was shortlisted for the 2011 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Emerging Author, and his award-winning short fiction and non-fiction has been published in Australian and international anthologies. Ross’ scholarly interests are diverse but primarily concerned with visual narrative and writing for the illustrated book, as well as narrative representations of trauma and melancholy. Ross is an Executive Committee member of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP), short story editor for the scholarly journal Social Alternatives, and is a regular presenter at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival and a literary judge. His first major publication, The Boy Who Grew Into A Tree (Penguin Books), is an illustrated book written by Gary Crew and will be published mid-2012.