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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Library Binding – May 9 2008


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Product Details

  • Library Binding: 326 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1435270207
  • ISBN-13: 978-1435270206
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this excellent recording of Foer's second novel, Woodman artfully captures the voice of nine-year-old Oskar Schell, the precocious amateur physicist who is trying to uncover clues about his father's death on September 11. Oskar—a self-proclaimed pacifist, tambourine player and Steven Hawking fanatic—is the perfect blend of smart-aleck maturity and youthful innocence. Articulating the large words slowly and carefully with only a hint of childishness, Woodman endearingly conveys the voice of a young child who is trying desperately to sound like an adult. The parallel story lines, beautifully narrated by Ferrone and Caruso, add variety to the imaginative and captivating plot, but they do not translate quite as seamlessly into audio format. Ferrone's wistful growl is perfect for the voice of a man who can no longer speak, but since the listener actually gets to hear the words that the character can only convey by writing on a notepad, his frustrating silence is not as profound. Caruso's brilliant performance as an adoring grandmother is also noteworthy, but the meandering stream-of-consciousness style of her and Ferrone's sections are sometimes hard to follow on audio. Although it is Oskar's poignant, laugh-out-loud narration that make this audio production indispensable.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Oskar Schell is not your average nine-year-old. A budding inventor, he spends his time imagining wonderful creations. He also collects random photographs for his scrapbook and sends letters to scientists. When his father dies in the World Trade Center collapse, Oskar shifts his boundless energy to a quest for answers. He finds a key hidden in his father's things that doesn't fit any lock in their New York City apartment; its container is labeled "Black." Using flawless kid logic, Oskar sets out to speak to everyone in New York City with the last name of Black. A retired journalist who keeps a card catalog with entries for everyone he's ever met is just one of the colorful characters the boy meets. As in Everything Is Illuminated (Houghton, 2002), Foer takes a dark subject and works in offbeat humor with puns and wordplay. But Extremely Loud pushes further with the inclusion of photographs, illustrations, and mild experiments in typography reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions (Dell, 1973). The humor works as a deceptive, glitzy cover for a fairly serious tale about loss and recovery. For balance, Foer includes the subplot of Oskar's grandfather, who survived the World War II bombing of Dresden. Although this story is not quite as evocative as Oskar's, it does carry forward and connect firmly to the rest of the novel. The two stories finally intersect in a powerful conclusion that will make even the most jaded hearts fall.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barry Francis on Dec 28 2012
Format: Paperback
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer, is incredibly close to being a great read. The plot is imaginative and both funny and sad at the same time. Although highly compelling, the book falls short in its excessively lengthy and complex story line which would have benefited from some skillful editing.

The main character is nine-year-old Oskar Schell, a whip-smart boy whose father died in the world trade center on 9-11. Oskar has an especially close relationship with his father, who may suspect his child has Asperger's Syndrome, and stimulates him with challenges, puzzles and mysteries.

An aspiring inventor, Oskar imagines amazing creations, collects random photographs for his scrapbook and sends numerous letters to famous scientists, including Stephen Hawking.

Let off school early on that fateful day, Oskar cannot bear to pick up the phone for his father's last desperate calls which are recorded on the family answering machine. Driven by guilt and sadness, he hides the machine from his mother. In the aftermath, he finds a key hidden in his father's things in an envelope marked "Black."

Believing that the key will somehow unlock a mystery devised by his late father, Oskar sets out to speak to everyone in New York named Black, aided by his mute grandfather (a survivor of the WWII bombing of Dresden). His goal is to find the lock that matches that mysterious key.

Using a complex indexing system that he devises, he undertakes this seemingly impossible task that brings him into contact with a range of interesting people in an exhilarating, often hilarious, and ultimately healing odyssey.

Some reviewers think the book is exploitive of the 911 tragedy. I don't. The incredible trauma caused by that event is an essential element of the plot.

My advice: If you like the book, see the movie. It's what the book could have been.

Barry Francis
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Tobin Garrett TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Aug. 23 2009
Format: Paperback
As with Foer's first novel, Everything is Illuminated, he uses multi-character narratives and weaves them together to create a disorienting, but ultimately connected set of stories that culminate in a great ending. Although some may call Foer's writing gimmicky with its use of letters, historical bending, images, and stylistic flourishes, he manages to use these for a purpose rather than simply as a way to show off his Writing 101 skills. I'm not sure if he can sustain this for a third novel, as it would be nice to see him evolve.

The story follows the aftermath of a boy who loses his father in the 9/11 towers, but also includes scenes from WW2 and the history of the boy's family. The boy finds a key from his late father and goes in search of what the key opens. In this way the story has elements of a mystery, kind of an elementary detective story with a child as the protagonist. We meet a huge cast of quirky and oddball characters, who have charming conversations and strange personalities. Reading this novel is like piecing a puzzle together, where in the beginning there are so many pieces that you're sure they can't all belong to the same puzzle image, but sure enough as you piece them together and keep going a strong and united image emerges.

A better novel than his first one, I would say. More daring and authentic. Heartbreaking as well as hilariously funny in parts. It has been a novel I have thought about well after finishing it, and I'm sure I'll read it again one day.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Borhi on June 15 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully written book about loss & recovery, and expression & humanity within relationships. The way we do & do not communicate with each other. The last few chapters & the ending will pull you by the heart & will not ask for mercy, it is so fulfilling.

There are two types of books: when finished a book & someone asks you how it was, you tell them what it was about; the second type of book, when finished, you can only describe how it made you feel.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is the latter.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on March 25 2007
Format: Paperback
Sometimes an author has a theme running through all of his writing -- in the case of Jonathan Safran Foer, it seems to be a quest of the soul. His follow-up to the cult hit "Everything Is Illuminated" is the poignant, quirky, tender "Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close," which takes readers back to the rubble of ground zero.

Oskar Schell is a precocious preteen, who has been left depressed and traumatized. His father died in the September 11 attacks, leaving behind a mysterious key in an envelope with the word "Black" on it. So with the loyalty and passion that only a kid can muster, he begins to explore New York in search of that lock.

As Oskar explores Manhatten, Foer also reaches throughout history to other horrific attacks that shattered people's lives, including his traumatized grandparents. Though the book is sprinkled with letters and stories from before Oskar's time, the boy's quest is the center of the book. And when he finally finds where the key belongs, he will find out a little something about human nature as well...

Historically, only a short time has passed since 9/11, and in some ways "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" reopens the wounds. It reminds me of all the families who lost fathers, mothers and children. But Foer doesn't use cheap sentimentalism to draw in his readers, nor does he exploit the losses of September 11th families. It takes guts to write a book like this, and skill to do it well.

In some ways, this book is much like Foer's first novel, but he deftly avoids retreading old ground -- the "quest" is vastly different, the young protagonist is very different, and the conflicts and loss are different, though no less hard-hitting.
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