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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005)

by Jonathan Safran Foer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
14,505445274 (4.09)309
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is a precocious Francophile who idolizes Stephen Hawking and plays the tambourine extremely well. He's also a boy struggling to come to terms with his father's death in the World Trade Center attacks. As he searches New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key he left behind, Oskar discovers much more than he could have imagined.… (more)
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» See also 309 mentions

English (409)  Dutch (13)  Danish (5)  French (5)  Swedish (3)  Italian (3)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (441)
Showing 1-5 of 409 (next | show all)
Beautiful and weird in a very good way.

She lived for nothing more than living, with nothing to get inspired by, to care for, to call her own.
Thinking would keep me alive. But now I am alive, and thinking is killing me. I think and think and think.
No, Oskar, that's her museum. Mine's in the other room. ( )
  sami7 | Aug 3, 2020 |
This was so good. The writing style is incredible, the plot interesting, and the characters compelling - this now gets a place among my favorite books of all time. ( )
  j_tuffi | May 30, 2020 |
JSF creates characters i wish i knew in real life. i wish i knew HIM in real life. although some people find his style monotonous, i adore it. he really has touched my literary soul. i can't decide if i like this book better, or Everything is Illuminated. ( )
  erinrita | May 28, 2020 |
Considering how much I loved Everything is Illuminated, I was really, really disappointed with this one. It's incredibly pretentious. Not a lot really happens. The characters didn't feel like characters, but like plot devices. I found the main character, nine-year-old Oskar Schell, kind of cringeworthy. I thought that the subplot about his grandparents' story was much better, but it was similar to the backstory in Everything is Illuminated which was much, much better. I just think having a character who refuses to speak and writes everything everywhere is really gimmicky. One of my grandmothers died when I was seven, and because she had motor neuron disease, I can't remember her saying a word – she, too, wrote everything in notebooks. But those notebooks never overflowed in the house. I'm not sure where I'm going with this tangent, except that this grandfather character seemed like an insult to my intelligence.

I didn't hate the book, but I thought it was very mediocre. Mostly, it thought it was way deeper and more insightful than it really was. I don't even know what it was trying to say – "when people die, you need to move on," I guess. But considering that's all it's trying to say, the dozens and dozens of pages devoted to Oskar searching for the lock that can be opened by this key he found is really annoying.

Hmm, I was going to rate this two stars, but typing this up has made me reconsider. I didn't hate it, but I certainly did not like it, and apparently "one star" encompasses that! So yeah. My advice – read Everything is Illuminated for sure. But skip this. The other book will just get your hopes up, when this is a big let-down.

PS: the exception to the above is Oskar's letter to his French teacher, pretending to be his mother and cancelling his lessons. That cracked me up. His mother apparently never even cares that she's paying for French lessons he doesn't go to though, which is kind of indicative of this book in general. ( )
  Jayeless | May 27, 2020 |
The perspective of an 8-year-old threw me off at first, and I wasn't sure I was going to like it because of that, but with the intertwining perspectives of the grandparents and the comparison between the bombing of Dresden and the 9/11 disaster, I was able to enjoy it. This book is definitely a downer, however. There are some humorous parts but overall it was very sad and, at times, I had to stop reading just because of the sadness. ( )
  myfishpajamas | May 17, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 409 (next | show all)
The bigger problem is that Foer never lets his character wander off without an errand.

In fact, there is hardly a line in this book that has not been written for the purpose of eliciting a particular emotion from the reader. The novel is a tearjerker. ...The skepticism and satire that marked the best parts of Everything Is Illuminated are nowhere in evidence here.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, Keith Gessen (pay site) (Sep 25, 2005)
The search for the lock that fits a mysterious key dovetails with related and parallel quests in this (literally) beautifully designed second novel from the gifted young author (Everything Is Illuminated, 2002). The searcher is nine-year-old Oskar Schell, an inventive prodigy who (albeit modeled on the protagonist of Grass's The Tin Drum) employs his considerable intellect with refreshing originality in the aftermath of his father Thomas's death following the bombing of the World Trade Center. That key, unidentified except for the word "black" on the envelope containing it, impels Oskar to seek out every New Yorker bearing the surname Black, involving him with a reclusive centenarian former war correspondent, and eventually the nameless elderly recluse who rents a room in his paternal grandma's nearby apartment. Meanwhile, unmailed letters from a likewise unidentified "Thomas" reveal their author's loneliness and guilt, while stretching backward to wartime Germany and a horrific precursor of the 9/11 atrocity: the firebombing of Dresden. In a riveting narrative animated both by Oskar's ingenuous assumption of adult responsibility and understanding (interestingly, he's "playing Yorick" in a school production of Hamlet) and the letter-writer's meaningful silences, Foer sprinkles his tricky text with interpolated illustrations that render both the objects of Oskar's many interests and the memories of a survivor who has forsworn speech, determined to avoid the pain of loving too deeply. The story climaxes as Oskar discovers what the key fits, and also the meaning of his life (all our lives, actually), in a long-awaited letter from astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. Much more is revealed as this brilliant fiction works thrilling variations on, and consolations for, its plangent message: that "in the end, everyone loses everyone." Yes, but look what Foer has found. Film rights to Scott Rudin in conjunction with Warner Bros. and Paramount; author tour.
added by cmwilson101 | editKirkus Reviews

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jonathan Safran Foerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baardman, GerdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bocchiola, MassimoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caruso, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferrone, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nilsson, Hans-JacobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stheeman, TjadineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodman, JeffNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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my idea of beautiful
First words
What about a teakettle?
I wondered for the first time in my life, if life was worth all the work it took to live. What exactly made it worth it?
So many people enter and leave your life! Hundreds of thousands of people! You have to keep the door open so they can come in! But it also means you have to let them go!
Shyness is when you turn your head away from something you want. Shame is when you turn your head away from something you do not want.
Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on.
Everything was a clue.
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Book description
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies.

When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he disovers in his father's closet. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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