Emma Garman’s “Extremely Similar and Incredibly Suspicious,” which appears at Mediabistro today, examines the resemblances between the new books from Jonathan Safran Foer and his wife, Nicole Krauss:
Take a tragically dead father, a good-hearted but distracted mother, and a clever kid engaged in a mystery-solving quest around New York. Add weighty historical background, aging WWII survivors, some plot-driving letters/diary entries/manuscript fragments, and you have the constituents of not one novel but two: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (Foer’s wife).
One can only speculate as to what the couple was thinking when they made the decision — for this is no unwitting coincidence — to come out with sophomore novels obviously collaborative, so numerous are the similarities. Is it a cute postmodern joke? God knows Foer is fond of those. Or perhaps it’s a romantic statement: as we are joined in matrimony so is our work? (Naturally, the dedications are to each other.)
Garman concludes that the couple’s respective publishers were wise to let Foer’s book appear first. “[A]t least this way Foer’s occasionally brilliant but largely flawed and sentimental effort had a few weeks not overshadowed by Krauss’s finely wrought masterpiece,” she says.