The novelist Jonathan Safran Foer has had good fortune in selling his fiction to moviemakers, but the results have been mixed.

His first novel, "Everything Is Illuminated," came out in 2002 and became a movie, directed and with a screenplay by Liev Schreiber, in 2005.

Safran Foer's second novel, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," is being released at year's end, barely in time for Oscars consideration. It's a big deal, with the 9-year-old protagonist's parents played by Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, and with a cast that also includes Viola Davis and Max Von Sydow.

The New York Times review of "EL&IC" was negative, dismissing its take on the events of 9/11as "kitsch" and describing it as "an impossible movie that has no reason for being other than as another pop-culture palliative for a trauma it can’t bear to face." 

I don't know how Safran Foer views the upcoming movie version of novel #2, but I interviewed him in 2005 and asked him for his view of the movie based on his first novel. Foer laughed and said "Can I just not answer that?" The movie, starring Elijah Wood, focuses on the part of novel in which the protagonist travels to Ukraine in search of a woman who may have helped his grandfather escape Nazi persecution in World War II.

"Even the third it used, it changed so dramatically," Foer said. "Asking what I thought of it is like asking a father if his daughter looks sexy on prom night. There's no good answer."

Jonathan Safran Foer /  Star Tribune file photo by Judy Griesedieck


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