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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by…

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Jonathan Safran Foer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,371395201 (4.1)285
Title:Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Authors:Jonathan Safran Foer
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2005), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:literature, 9-11

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 (361)  Dutch (12)  French (5)  Danish (5)  Swedish (3)  Italian (3)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (392)
Showing 1-5 of 361 (next | show all)

My expectations were really high on this one! Many people told me just how much they enjoyed this book and how special it was.

For myself, I had to admit that I did like the title.

In the beginning I had to get used to the style and the use of different types throughout the story. After some time, that was fine, though not as great as I had hoped for. The story is a search in which I believed some steps were a bit too convenient for our main character. I found it interesting to read about the aftermath of 9/11, the effects it had on the people involved.

Overall, I liked reading it, but as happens quite often, when you have such great expectations, reality can't live up to it. ( )
  Floratina | May 26, 2016 |
I started to read this book because it was a suggestion in the reading group that I am in. Key word in that sentence, STARTED. I Can't finish it. I see it as pointless, and very confusing. I feel I have wasted my reading time on something unbearably boring and did I say CONFUSING? I very rarely give up on books, in fact, I made it to page 170 in this...then looked at the reviews to see what it was that I was missing. My opinion, you either love it or hate it. I choose the latter. ( )
  gma2lana | May 9, 2016 |
Why I Read It:

I needed an audiobook to listen to on the five-hour drive home for Christmas, so I thought this might be an easy listen. I switched to the regular book version to finish up the final two thirds of the story.

Overarching Story Line: 1/5

The basic story line—boy searches for clues about a mysterious key found in his deceased father’s closet—is a good idea in theory, but in practice it just did not work out. I found so much of this novel to be incredibly unbelievable. A young boy travels all over New York City by himself, knocking on the doors of people he’s never met and about whom he knows absolutely nothing? I also didn’t enjoy the secondary story line, which is told by Oskar’s grandmother and grandfather and is remarkably depressing. I felt like good storytelling was being sacrificed for emotional manipulation of the reader.

Voice/Style: 2/5

I hated the way the grandfather wrote, using all commas instead of periods. I didn’t like the chapter in which the words got closer and closer together until it was just pages of black, letters piled upon letters until it was unreadable. And I didn’t understand the random pictures interspersed throughout the book. I definitely could have done without those.

Characterization: 3/5

One of the only things I did enjoy about the book was Oskar. I thought he was quite an interesting character: emotional, unique, and very intelligent. He struck me as someone who may have been on the Autism spectrum. I liked the way he spoke, and I enjoyed the sections that he narrated the most.

Additional Elements: 3/5

This story is saturated with the events of September 11, 2001. I think that this book illustrated to me the true tragedy of that day better than anything ever has before.

Recommended for:

People who like really sad books. ( )
  blackrabbit89 | May 6, 2016 |
This book is a story of a young boy whose father died in the twin towers on the morning of September 11th. Jonathan finds a key with the label “Black” in a vase in his father’s closet that he wants to understand the meaning of. The story follows Jonathan as he goes on a secret to find the meaning and connection that the key has with his father.
  KristenSchmidt | Apr 14, 2016 |
Oskar Schell, the precocious 9 year old son of Thomas Schell, is a the main character who was left fatherless after Thomas died int he 9/11 attacks. He is fighting through his depressed feelings, which he often calls wearing heavy boots.

Oskar and his father had a game in which Thomas would send Oskar on a detective mission. The last game sent Oskar to Central Park to solve a very vague riddle. His father died before the riddle was solved. This was one reason that, when Oskar finds a key in an envelope with the word "Black" written on it in his father's closet, he sees it as a clue that needed to be investigated. Oskar heads out on an adventure to question everyone with the last name of Black in NYC about this key.

During his journey Oskar meets many who take him and listen to his inquiries about the key. Oskar is also very close to his grandmother who tells her own story of loss during this novel. She writes to Oskar (and Oskar's Grandfather writes to his Thomas) about how her husband, Oskar's grandfather, was in love with her sister. Her sister tragically dies in the Dresden bombing and the grandfather starts to lose his nerves. By the time the grandmother and the grandfather find each other again the grandfather can no longer speak. The two love each other but the grandfather is unable to cope with his emotions and he walks out on his pregnant wife. He comes back upon their son's death.

Oskar finds the owner of the key by the end of the book and discovers that it did not belong to his father after all. He also tells the man whose key it was that his father left messages that he found on the answering machine from the last minutes he survived in the WTC. Oskar also finds out that his mother has known about his adventures the entire time and has been contacting the Blacks before he arrives and prepares them to give him a warm welcome.
  jtp146 | Feb 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 361 (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.
Haiku summary

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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