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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005)

by Jonathan Safran Foer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
14,963448284 (4.08)317
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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    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 317 mentions

English (415)  Dutch (14)  Danish (5)  French (5)  Swedish (3)  Italian (3)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (448)
Showing 1-5 of 415 (next | show all)
I enjoyed about 10 pages of this book when the pieces fit together at the end; for the other 196 pages it felt like dental surgery without novocaine. The problem for me was that there were several different voices, and unlike The Help where the author had the decency to tell you who was "speaking" in the chapter, Foer just could not be bothered, leaving you to guess. Figuring out what was real and what was imaginary was also a chore. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Unable to rate this
  Stacie-C | May 8, 2021 |
I feel horrible for giving this book only two stars, but hear me out. Coming from an English teacher who thinks in straight lines - linking one idea to another to form a linear train of thought, this book at times confused the crap out of me. It took me a while to understand who was "talking" in each chapter (between the grandmother, Oskar, and Thomas Schell Sr.). Furthermore, after realizing that Thomas Schell Sr. was the one writing or "talking" I would become extremely frustrated with the writing style because there would be close to no periods or new paragraphs formed. The run-on sentences drove me crazy and thankfully after about half-way through the book I stopped caring so much about that and was able to focus more on the plot (or thoughts)of the story.

Don't get me wrong the overall theme and message of the story was deep and beautiful and I think this would actually be a great book for students to read and might be a valuable one to teach from (probably not about grammar or sentence structure though). Clearly Jonathan Safran Foer put a lot of effort and thought into the structure of this book, but the structures of it irritated me. Even Oskar's point of view (which had correct punctuation and paragraphs) irritated me because there would be points where he would be talking to someone and it would be difficult to tell when he was talking and when the other person was talking. Thankfully I'm okay with the idea that not every book needs to have a perfectly wrapped up ending, otherwise this book would have irritated me even further.

It took me a long time to read this and at times it definitely felt like something that I was forcing myself to do. As I got into the 100-150 pages left it started to move a little faster and I finally felt like I was able to crank out some reading, but it never truly felt enjoyable.

I'm the type of person who tries to give every book a chance, but this happened to be one of them that I did not feel satisfied after reading. After I read a good book, I feel the need to take a break and bask in the glory of the plot, characters, and writing style because it leaves me feeling wholly filled for a while. This book unfortunately left me feeling slightly empty and like I need to dive right into the next book in order to make up for missing parts.

If you as a reader like linear trains of thought and feel the need (like myself) to have a very structured book (grammatically and paragraph-ically *yes I know it's not a word) and know who is talking at every moment, this may not be the book for you. Give it a try - because I believe that every book deserves a try - but try not to put too many eggs in one basket as you continue to read.

Happy reading! ( )
  courty4189 | Mar 24, 2021 |
There's a blurb on my copy of Cloud Atlas that says something to the effect of "David Mitchell's ambition is writ in fire on every page" or something equally over the top, and I don't think that that book quite earns it, but damn, this does. Despite those five stars, I don't think this is 100% perfect (I think that the non-Oskar narratives ultimately ended up being kind of a question mark to me), but ultimately this is just such a dizzying, heartbreaking Thing that I feel like I can't give it anything less. Just brilliant in so many different ways. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
Started well, continued not so well and finished unevenly. There was a sentimentality, particularly with the grandparent voices that alienated me in the end. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 415 (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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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)

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.

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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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