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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel…

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Jonathan Safran Foer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,441397196 (4.1)285
Title:Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel
Authors:Jonathan Safran Foer
Info:Mariner Books (2006), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Tags:fiction, 20th century, 9/11, new york, sad, death, favorites

Work details

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005)

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    BookshelfMonstrosity: The precocious young narrators in each of these novels embark on journeys alone, providing illustrations to enhance their complex narratives, which include family history as well as current concerns. T. S. travels across the U.S, while Oskar travels throughout New York City.… (more)
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» See also 285 mentions

English (366)  Dutch (12)  French (5)  Danish (5)  Swedish (3)  Italian (3)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (397)
Showing 1-5 of 366 (next | show all)
A little too well crafted. It came across as a book calculated to evoke an emotional response which, as a result, it did not do. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
I picked up Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close at the suggestion of my friend's girlfriend. I don't really know this girl, since the two of them started dating fairly recently, but after talking to her for a bit, I thought she was really cool and I wanted to know more about her.

Fortunately, we started talking about books, which is one of the best ways to get to know someone. We exchanged favorites, and ELaIC was high on her list. I got it from the library the very next day and started reading almost immediately.

I loved it. The story was heart-wrenchingly sad and beautiful, but still remained believable. In addition to a good story, I found its style to be intriguing. Foer breaks a lot of traditional rules of writing, but I liked most of them. They felt right. Except the dialogue breaks. All the dialogue runs together and I'm not a big fan of that style, so if that kind of thing really bothers you, I probably wouldn't recommend it. If you can look past it, you really should try this out.

And now I feel like I understand my friend's girlfriend much better. Hopefully once you read this, you'll feel like you understand both of us. ( )
  shulera1 | Jun 7, 2016 |
re-reading straight away.
( )
  GeetuM | Jun 3, 2016 |
Only finished this book as I was reading it for a book group challenge otherwise it would have been abandoned. ( )
  KarenDuff | Jun 1, 2016 |
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Foer

5 stars

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an unusual, precocious child. In my mind he is also a special needs child with Aspergers characteristics. He is suffering the traumatic events of 9/11 and the death of his father. This book is presented in three voices. Oskar tells his story as he embarks on a quest to find out why his father owned a mysterious key. His narrative perfectly captures the manic, imaginative ramblings of a gifted and unusual child. This story is interspersed with the unusual, disjointed letters written by his mysteriously absent grandfather. Occasionally the family history (specifically the WW2 bombing of Dresden) is filled out by passages written by Oskar’s closest friend, his grandmother. This is not an easy book to read. The writing style is unusual and complex. And, to use Oskar’s jargon, the emotional content gave me “heavy boots”. It is a brilliantly constructed book. In Oscar’s voice, it takes an oblique look at the after effects of our national tragedy. Connecting 9/11 to the allied bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima pulls the whole story into an examination of war, violence and power. It’s not surprising that I was frequently reminded of Vonnegut and Slaughterhouse Five

Mostly this story is told in Oskar’s voice. The intervals of his grandfather’s letters and his grandmother’s pseudo biography give the background of a traumatized, dysfunctional family history. None of these characters are completely reliable narrators. The one member of Oskar’s family that we don’t hear from directly is his mother. This lets his mother in for a great deal of criticism in other reviews that I’ve read. That’s unfair. I can identify with this woman. I don’t have to imagine what it is like to be left as the surviving parent. The general consensus of reviewers seems to be, “I know she had her own grief to deal with but……” Yes she did. She was traumatized and grieving. She also had an unusual child who had special needs before he lost his father. She had a demanding job that Oskar clearly resented. She had the financial responsibility for her son (an apartment with a doorman in the city, probably a private school, an expensive psychoanalyst……). I could go on with a long list of the purely financial and business, adult issues following such a death that Oskar, as intelligent as he was, didn’t know about.

The mother’s burdens don’t appear much in Oskar’s narrative because he doesn’t know about them. This alone indicates a mother who was protecting her child. There are other indications, especially at the end of the book, and by that time Oskar has figured it out. His mother called the people on his list to tell them he was coming. He wasn’t as unobserved or unsupervised as it seemed. She did the right thing. She took him to a therapist, but she refused to have him hospitalized and allowed him to take his own, quirky path to resolve his grief. Most children grieving the loss, especially the sudden loss, of a parent will at some point blame the surviving parent. Even if the intelligent child knows this is unfair, the emotional reaction is there. Oskar’s narrative is colored with this emotion. Undoubtedly, the mother made some mistakes in her treatment of Oskar. What parent doesn’t? Raising an Oskar must be unimaginably difficult at the best of times, and this book was clearly not about the best of times.

( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 366 (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 editionsconfirmed
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
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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
This is story of Oskar Schell. His dad was in the 9/11 tragedy and Oskar is still recovering from the loss of his father and the guilt for having not answered the phone when his dad called. ELIC follows Oskar's adventure through New York looking for the lock he believed was left behind for him to find. It is a story of healing not only for Oskar but also for the people in his life and the people he meets along the way.

I really really liked this book. It was a style completely different from anything I had read before. It made me cry. That's why it doesn't 5 stars. It was a really good story and I'm glad I bought it.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618711651, Paperback)

Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history.

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:34 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

A new novel by the author of Everything Is Illuminated introduces Oskar Schell, the nine-year-old son of a man killed in the World Trade Center bombing who searches the city for a lock that fits a black key his father left behind. Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination. Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone's heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who've lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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