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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close [Library Binding]

Jonathan Safran Foer
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 9 2008 1435270207 978-1435270206 Reprint

New York Times bestseller

A Best Book of the Year
Los Angeles Times, Washington Post Book World, Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rocky Mountain News

“Energetic, inventive, and ambitious . . . an uplifting myth born of the sorrows of 9/11.” —Boston Globe

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.

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a miracle, a daybreak, a man on the moon. It's so impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving and fine.” —Baltimore Sun

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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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

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The book is good but the movie is better Dec 28 2012
By Barry Francis TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It's always necessary" 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK GAVE ME "HEAVY BOOTS" Aug. 16 2013
By Buggy TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Reviewers seemed to either think this book was "absolute genius" or not be able to finish it. I fall somewhere in the middle because while as a whole it was haunting and unforgettable some sections were a struggle to get through.

Told from the mind of nine year old Oskar Schell, we enter his world about a year after the "The worst day" and subsequent death of his father during the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Centre. It soon becomes apparent that Oskar is not your average nine year old. He is an inventor, a collector, musical prodigy, lover of Shakespeare, Stephen Hawking's pen pal and a detective. And his IQ and differences (possibly some form of autism or Asperger's syndrome) set him apart from his peers.

His father nurtured his above average intelligence, creating intricate mysteries for Oskar to solve and he felt closer to him than anyone, which is why he is having such a hard time coming to terms with his death. Oscar can't sleep and is continually inventing ways to stop buildings from falling to the ground. He has also developed rules that make it easier for him to function in the world and not "wear heavy boots" i.e.-feel anxious. He only wears white clothes, won't go above the 6th floor in buildings, won't ride elevators or ferries and gives himself bruises when he feels particularly anxious or lies about something.

One day while smelling the clothes in his father's closet Oskar stumbles upon a blue vase and in turn a key and a letter that simply says "Black". Taking it upon himself to solve this one last mystery Oskar sets off to find information about the key. After going through the phone book Oskar discovers that there are 472 people with the name Black living in New York, surely one of them will know something about the key.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative and wide in scope and emotion Aug. 23 2009
By J. Tobin Garrett TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
high quality, low price
Published 12 days ago by Selina Wang
2.0 out of 5 stars Misleading Summary of Storyline
This book was on the reading list for my 15-year old son's English class. I thought I would read it at the same time to see what it was about because the description on the back... Read more
Published 1 month ago by KMac
4.0 out of 5 stars Not at all what I expected....better!
The most unusual mystery I've ever read. This is one of those unique stories that is one of a kind.
I'm not going to spoil it by discussing the plot. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sylvia Holt
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Unique
The thing that I will remember most about this book is how poetic the author's style is. The layout of this book reminds me of a poem with it's quirky grammatical style, and... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Farrah
1.0 out of 5 stars Some very unnecessary aspects
I was really looking forward to this book....and, therefore, was very disappointed. I am not sure a young child should be wandering the streets of New York alone. Read more
Published 12 months ago by 3bunnies
3.0 out of 5 stars Book is good, Shipper isn't
I really enjoyed this novel, but I had bought it used to save money. Usually, used books still are perfectly fine. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jenna Mazur
2.0 out of 5 stars Precious, overly amused with itself
September 11th and the Holocaust are two subjects that are easy use if you are an author looking to add emotional weight to your novel, but are difficult to use well. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2012 by Mary Lavers
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving
The story relates the effort of a nine year old boy in finding information on a key left by his father, who died in the 9/11 attacks. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2011 by S. Lavigne
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
Safran Foer is one of today's finest writers. The voice of Oscar in this novel is at once true and endearing. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2011 by Jennifer A. Kirkwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
One of the only books that I've shed tears to. Oskar's adventurous proclivities and over-sensitivities are perfectly patched together with NYC and its 9/11 wounds.
Published on Aug. 21 2010 by SBuckle
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