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

by Jonathan Safran Foer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
11,744372225 (4.11)276
Member:pinklady60
Title:Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Authors:Jonathan Safran Foer
Info:Boston : Mariner Books, c2005.
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, ALA Notable Book, 9/11, New York City, grief

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 276 mentions

English (341)  Dutch (12)  French (5)  Danish (5)  Swedish (3)  Italian (2)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (371)
Showing 1-5 of 341 (next | show all)
Extremely moving & Incredibly touching! If you're ready for a 9-11 story, let this be the one you choose. ( )
1 vote olongbourn | Mar 1, 2015 |
Writing from the point of view of a child is always difficult, you need to strike a balance between what they could actually convey and what the reader could tolerate for the length of a novel. I would not want to read the actual speech pattern of a child word for word but nor do I want the voice of an adult captioned as a child's. Yet the author manages to capture the inquisitiveness and almost-sociopathic tendencies of children, their obnoxiousness and insensitivity due to their unpractised lying skills and bluntness -how great was the faked letter dismissing the French teacher and the utter failure of the word association game the psychiatrist initiated!-, the need they have to impress, their rapid absorption and regurgitation of knowledge, in the unique voice of the youthful narrator.

Another difficult subject is how soon is too soon to use a subject matter such as 9/11 as the driving force behind the narrator's motives, - a problem which The Goldfinch avoided with its own fictionalised version. Were reactions to the novel harsher when it first came out a mere four years after the events? For me, time and distance has diluted its full impact, whereas it may still be too close to home for Americans.

I particularly enjoyed the author's writing style, switching between the child and his grandparents, and the way the dialogue was handled. I have never heard of the phrase "one hundred dollars" as an adjectival alternative to "great" - I hope you read that sentence all the way to the end because otherwise it sounds like I have no concept of money! - but the way the entire family uses the phrase was a nice touch in linking them as a family, just like in real life. The experimental-writing aspects -the numbers-to-text, the text line-setting decreasing line by line until the pages gradually turn black, the interjecting pictures, the notepads from the art store, and the editing-in-progress texts, especially the subtle but heartbreaking mistake of "you" circled on page 214- were used effectively.

It was satisfying how the story threads came together - the grandfather's plot was separated from the child's for most of the novel until, of course, the denouement of the plot in the sense of burial plot! - and how the narrator was not just magically cured of his grief. The mother's deliberate detachment from the main events was surprisingly moving, her grief is communicated to the reader through the lack of grief that her child angrily observes and narrates to us.

A beautiful book with an exquisite ending. ( )
  kitzyl | Feb 19, 2015 |
This was a surprising read for me. I listened to it on audio or I might have put it down. I would have missed a great story. I laughed, I cried, I listened and thought...And I finished it on 9/11. Lots of heart in it. ( )
  whybehave2002 | Feb 4, 2015 |
nice book but I prefered the movie ( )
  giacomo.mallaci | Jan 29, 2015 |
READ IN DUTCH

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 | Jan 4, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 341 (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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Dedication
For
NICOLE,
my idea of beautiful
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What about a teakettle?
Quotations
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:20 -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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