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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel
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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

4/5

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About this ebook

A New York Times Bestseller • Named A Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post Book World, Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Rocky Mountain News
 
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 of an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.
 

Editor's Note

Emotionally gripping…

This stunning story of a precocious nine-year old boy, who struggles with issues of loss and family, captured the attention of a nation grappling with the aftermath of the attacks on 9/11.

LanguageEnglish
PublisherMariner Books
Release dateSep 3, 2013
ISBN9780547416212
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel
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Author

Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the novels Everything Is Illuminated, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Here I Am, and the nonfiction book Eating Animals. His work has received numerous awards and been translated into thirty-six languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Reviews for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Rating: 4.024431818181818 out of 5 stars
4/5

5,280 ratings264 reviews

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  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    A remarkable book, but in the end I'm not convinced Foer carries it off. The idea, seemingly Tristram Shandy meet Huckleberry Finn, combined with the cross generational juxtaposition of 9/11 and the bombing of Dresden, is vast. Yet - and perhaps I am an obtuse reader - the links were often unclear, the leaps befuddled. The writing is tender, yes, but I'm not convinced. Nice try but no coconut?
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    It was a bit hard to follow with flashbacks and different narrators. Realistic presentation of effects of trauma on a child.
  • Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
    1/5
    Only finished this book as I was reading it for a book group challenge otherwise it would have been abandoned.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    Mixed reaction... On the one hand, I think Foer did well with the Asberger's/autism. BUT, I find the thoughts, language, experiences (classmates, other interactions) he related completely incongruous with the thoughts, language and experiences of a boy as young as his main character. Couple the very bizarre interludes that seem aligned with the character, but out of character for the characters being portrayed. I guess Foer used them as a devices to convey the different world of the autistic mind. Excellent primary narrative, averaged with substandard secondary stories, yields a middling three stars
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    Dit boek verdient alleszins de prijs van de originaliteit: het verwerkt het grote trauma van Nine-eleven op een heel eigen manier, met originele verhalen vanuit diverse invalshoeken, met zwart-wit-illustraties en met typografische truukjes (zoals blanco pagina’s, almaar dichter op elkaar gedrukte letters enz.). Dit geeft op zich al aan dat Safran Foer eer betuigt aan hoe mensen omgaan met een bijzonder ingrijpende, we zouden nu zeggen, disruptieve gebeurtenis.Over de belangrijkste vertelstem, de 9-jarige Oskar Schell, is al heel wat geschreven, - zowel positief als negatief -, en ook voor mij heeft dit eigenwijze, overslimme, en sociaal gehandicapte jongetje zowel een afstotelijk als een aantrekkelijk kantje. Maar hij draagt deze roman wel. De bijkomende vertelstemmen van de oma en de grootvader zijn misschien even problematisch (en getuigend van soms erg surreëel menselijk gedrag) maar zij trekken Oskar’s verhaal van gemis, woede en onmacht ineens naar een veel diepere laag. Persoonlijk vond ik die delen van het boek veel interessanter, ze maakten veel tastbaarder hoe grote, “historische” gebeurtenissen ( Nine-eleven, Dresden, Hiroshima) een diepe, traumatische uitwerking hebben op concrete, “kleine” mensen, die heel dikwijls al in een heel complexe existentiële situatie zitten. Safran Foer wijst daarbij nergens op grote, definitieve oplossingen voor dit traumatische leed, tenzij het leven zelf en vooral de nabijheid, nabijheid van geliefden, het samen delen van vreugde en verdriet, gemis en verlangen. Schrijftechnisch put de auteur uit een rijk arsenaal aan literaire verwijzingen (die naar Gunter Grass en W.G. Sebald liggen voor de hand), en illustreert hij met kleine verhalen (zoals in het begin de zoektocht “zonder aanwijzingen” van Oskar in Central Park, of de raamvertelling van alle mensen met de naam Black waar hij langsgaat, met elk hun eigen verhaal) hoe mensen met het mysterie van lijden omgaan. Als vorm van therapeutisch schrijven (voor al wie geraakt is door Nine-Eleven) vind ik dit boek best geslaagd. Maar het doet me iets te geconstrueerd aan om van echt hele grote literatuur te spreken.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Wow. This book is beautiful, painful, haunting, uplifting, powerful -- so many things. The writing is superb, the plot is complex and mesmerising, the characters -- you just fall in love with them. This is a book that will stay with me a long time.
  • Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
    2/5
    How about, extremely pretentious and incredibly gimmicky?I see a lot of reviewers have enjoyed this book, and certainly whether you love it or hate it will ultimately depend on your personal taste, but it was just too contrived for me. The writing style with its "creative" typographical choices and mangling of punctuation all screamed to me, "Wow, is this guy trying way too hard, or what?"The novel weaves two stories together -- a 9-year-old boy's grief over his father's death in the 9/11 attacks, as well as the tale of his grandparents' lamentably dysfunctional relationship and their survival of the bombing of Dresden. It all begins when Oskar finds a mysterious key in his parents' closet which belonged to his father. The question is, what does it open?Of course, an undertone of sadness pervades this book, felt especially keenly when reading about Oskar's attempts to make sense of his father's death and understand the effects that it has had on him. It should have been powerful and overwhelmingly emotional, and yet I couldn't help but get distracted and irritated by how unbelievable the story and the characters were, or how much their voices reeked of artificiality. This should have been a great story, and yet I can't help but feel that it was ruined by a self-indulgent author who got carried away with trying to be unique and clever.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    I chose to listen to the Cd version of the book, but did check out the photos and drawings in a paper copy when one of the CDs skipped and I felt I would be missing out on an important part of the story line. There were several narrators, but I wasn't especially impressed by any of them as I often am. Though I have to admit enjoying the book, it did seem that the main character, Oskar was awfully pretentious. Though he's only 9, he seems way above his years in many many ways. I've worked with gifted students, but really felt he was talking more about a 12 year old than someone of that young of age. Besides that glitch, I felt like the story itself was interesting, but I was expecting more. The grandpa and the grandma were just too quirky for my liking. Now for something I liked: I thought that Peter Black was the best thing in the story. How he and Oskar were able to talk. I liked that it was an outsider who finally was able to reach him, and not someone such as Ron which would have just been so predictable. I'm thinking there must be something else that I loved, but really can't think of any other stand out thing. I do want to see the movie and wonder how much the grandma and grandpa are involved.I don't think I will read another Jonathan Safran Foer book. Too many authors I really enjoy.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Loved the voice of Oskar, and the use of graphics throughout the book. I was less crazy about the voices of the grandparents - at times those sections just seemed too gimmicky. Still, a fascinating story and so much more complex than the movie.
  • Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
    1/5
    Ugh. NOT my book. I think I gave it two chapters. And I only gave it that many because it was a book club book. The only word I can apply to it is, "craptastic".
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Oh. Oh my heart. This was incredible. At parts, confusing - lots of run on sentences and different mediums of telling the story, but it all came together beautifully at the end and everything is painful but true. Opened old wounds I had thought healed re: NYC and 9/11, but cathartic. Absolutely breathtaking.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    One of the greatest, most emotional books I've read in a long time.

    By now, I think almost everyone knows the story: it's about a boy named Oskar who loses his father in the September 11 attacks. However, it's also about his mother, his grandmother, his grandfather, the childhoods of his grandparents back in Dresden, Germany, and a whole bunch of other people that show up throughout the book.

    I felt a range of emotions while reading this: I laughed out loud, I got angry, I felt sympathy...and at the very end, I cried (at my desk at work, and didn't give a damn if anyone saw me).

    I absolutely loved it, and I was sad that it was over when I was done. That, to me, is the mark of a fantastic story.

  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    Oskar is a 9-year old boy whose 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. His search through the five boroughs of New York brings him into contact with many different characters. This story was a little heavy on the melodrama, and the character of the precocious child has been done to death, but I still enjoyed this story for what it was. I remember that the lock reveal at the end was a let down to me.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    I rarely read fiction (my forte is history) and especially not books that have strange pages with blots of ink and typographical distortions on them, but I chanced upon this paperback on a 'discarded book' shelf of a ship and opened it to a random page. Others have summarized the story and discussed whether the young hero has Asperger's Syndrome or not and I have little to add to the number of fine reviews here on Goodreads of this incredibly witty and moving book ... except to say that it has forced me to rethink my moratorium on reading fiction. I really never thought that could happen, and it just did.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Young Oskar is traumatized (who wouldn't be?) by the death of his father on 9/11. He finds a key in a jar in his dad's closet and goes on a search around New York for clues as to what it opens. Oskar also seems to have some special needs (autism? aspergers?) and thus, his narration is not necessarily reliable. I was more than a little concerned for Oskar as he traversed NYC ostensibly alone, and knocked on doors of complete strangers in various neighborhoods. Between that and trying to diagnose him (I used to be a social worker), I had a hard time with this at first. However, the story drew me in and forced me to suspend some disbelief as the cast of characters assisted Oskar and his family with their grieving process. I was also compelled, soon after reading, to view the film based on this novel, which was excellent and poignant. This book is extremely touching and incredibly well-written. (Sorry, I couldn't resist).
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    I love the way this books climbs into so many lives and makes beauty out of brokenness. It doesn't try to make things right, just beautiful as they are. I also like the way it makes our experiences shape our lives so devastatingly and normalises this. We are our own coping mechanisms, and none of us will ever be normal. But that will be okay.This book kind of reminds me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, but this one's better.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    While I thoroughly enjoyed the portions of this book told by the point-of-view of the young boy, I felt the rest of the narrative was significantly less captivating. This, alas, left me feeling a bit disappointed at times.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    The surprise of the year. After the limited response to the movie I did not expect such an excellent work of fiction. The rythm of the book is diiferent as the voice of the young boy who narrates his search for an answer to his dad's puzzle. Do not let the 9-11 theme stop you from reading this book as the story goes well beyond this topic.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    Most of the time, I hate books that have children as the main characters because they seem so utterly precocious and are so infuriating with their thoughts. However, even though Oskar is overly precocious and his thoughts don't seem like the proper ones for a grieving nine year old, I still loved the character. He sees the world a different way than most people do. I don't know if it's a combination of his innocence mixed with his grief, but whatever it is, even though his point of view is strange and unexpected, it's maybe a little bit enlightening too. His voice is just so memorable.The book evoked a lot of emotion in me. Sometimes it was overwhelmingly emotional. I had a lump in my throat for most of the book, but I didn't mind that because it wasn't trying to make you cry. It described the trials of Oskar's family so honestly. I sympathized with all of them. I know people didn't always love the chapters about the grandparents but I thought they brought an extra dimension to Oskar's story. All of them were just so real.This book is highly recommended. I will definitely be reading more from Jonathan Safran Foer.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Certainly one of the definitive novels to emerge as a result of 9/11, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a parallel story of boys who lost their fathers to acts of war. Oskar’s father tragically died in the attack on the World Trade Center and years earlier his grandfather deserted his pregnant wife long after the bombing of Dresden. War takes its toll in many ways and always on innocent victims as illustrated by the precocious nine-year old Oskar who spends his time trying to figure out the key, literally and figuratively, to his father’s death. Composed in a collage of aphorisms, photographs, and other unusual stylistic devices, this is a work of its time to be read by generations to follow, in other words, an instant classic.
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
    How do we react to the end of our world? This one explores the reactions of a young boy who has a secret- one he has tried to keep to protect his mother and to hang on to memories of his father- one of the Twin Tower victims of 9-11. A strange scavenger hunt ensues- the book is quirky, deeply emotional- enjoyable.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    God, I loved this book. I have never been so touched by a character than I was by Oskar Schell.

    I listened to this on CD. I strongly recommend it. The voice of Oskar was so genuine and I never wanted his story to end, even though I couldn't wait for him to find what he'd been looking for.

    Just a beautiful book.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Extremely wonderful. Thoughtful, emotional and so much more. A story or rather stories.
    Have we librarians not met on Oskar along the way?
    Don't think I could see the movie. That reservoir of tears would over flow.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    The book was strange, but I like that. I'm not sure that taking place after 9/11 was key to the story. I think it's what the reader brings to the book. My impression is that Oskar, the nine year old that tells the story, has Asperger's Syndrome. He doesn't know how to handle his father's death, so he tries to make order out of something that can't ever make sense. The interactions with his neighbors, mom, grandma, and grandpa are what make the book extraordinary. I loved it. I found myself laughing with him, feeling hopeless, anxious, scared - I understood this character. I wanted to hug him. Typically, I don't get emotional over a story, but this one tugged at my heart. I don't think it's a book everyone would love, but if you like complex and challenging story lines, it may be for you, too.
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
    The story occurs two years after 9/11 and features young Oskar. His father perished in one of the towers, and Oskar misses him desperately. When he finds an envelope with a mysterious key, he journeys to solve the mystery and to be closer to his father. Oskar’s narrative voice is what makes this novel work. He is a young and emotional kid with an excellent vocabulary. When he’s terribly sad, he says that he wears heavy boots. When he’s happier, the boots feel lighter. He likes adverbs and finishes many of his sentences with “obviously.” He’s smart and precocious, but in a good way. The novel also works because the author uses pictures throughout to depict Oskar’s journey. Some of the images are chilling and could evoke strong emotions from the reader. They did for me, but I kept reading because I was rooting for Oskar.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Oskar Schell is a precocious, inquisitive, inventive boy whose father died in the towers on 9/11. He has such a strong imagination he can’t come to grips with his father’s death because he keeps inventing new ways his father might have died. Oskar finds a key hidden in a vase in his father’s closet and begins a search throughout NYC to find out what it opens and to meet someone who can tell him more about his dad. The people he meets tell him their own stories. The rest of the time Oskar daydreams about marvelous inventions, many of which would help people in disasters (which he worries about all the time); he plays the tambourine, researches foreign websites where the more graphic photos from 9/11 are published, and writes to many important people (especially Stephen Hawking), asking to be their assistant. He’s very close to his grandmother, who lives across the street where they can easily communicate by walkie-talkie and see each other from their apartment windows. As she does her own grieving, she patiently answers his questions and listens to his worries, even when he calls at 3 or 4 a.m., which he has a tendency to do.Interspersed is the story of Oskar’s grandfather, a survivor of the Dresden bombings who lost all that he loved that day and who hasn’t spoken since, who deserted his wife before Oskar’s father was born. The two stories become intertwined in interesting ways to lead to healing and understanding for both of them.This book is simply wonderful. Oskar is a gem of a character, and I fell in love with him from the first page. Mixed into his musings and adventures are pictures of the things he thinks about (especially a man falling from the towers) and letters he receives back from the people he writes, as well as entries from the book his grandfather uses to communicate with people and letters he’s written his son (Oskar’s father) throughout the last 40 years but has never mailed. The format can be a bit confusing but also intriguing, and in that respect it reminded me of "The Book Thief", another fabulous read. (One note about reading on the Kindle: be sure you have decent eyes before you do this, because the print in some of the diary entries is not enlargeable and it is smaller than the smallest Kindle font.) Very highly recommended.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Oskar Schell is 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. 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. his long lost Grandfather, who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    Contrary to much of what I'd heard and read, I loved Oskar, the narrator, and I found the book very gripping and heartfelt. Something totally different, not necessarily plotwise, but how it is transported to the reader. Impressed me deeply!
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
    I wonder what this book would be like without the photographs.