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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Paperback – 25 May 2006

3.8 out of 5 stars 165 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 1st Penguin Edition edition (25 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141012692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141012698
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"[A] dazzling literary high-wire act . . . brilliant . . . The payoff is extraordinary: a fearless, acrobatic, ultimately haunting effort to combine inspired mischief with a grasp of the unthinkable."

From the Back Cover

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, computer consultant, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, amateur astronomer, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, origamist, detective, vegan and collector of butterflies.

When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers 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...

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Oskar is a nine year old living in New York, who lost his Father in 9/11. Whilst he is going through his things he accidently smashes a vase and comes across a key. Oskar is sure that the key belonged to his father and so attempts to search for which of the 162 million locks in New York it might open, in an attempt to make sense of the tragedy and keep something of his Father alive.

A parrallel narrative involves Oskar's grandparents, their relationship and the similarity between the Dresden bombings (which they witnessed) and 9/11.

I have to say that I approached this novel with some trepidation, fearing an overly sentimental or schmaltzy examination of 9/11, but I needn't have worried. With the exception of 'If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things' by Jon McGregor, this novel would have to be as close to perfection as I have ever read.

The writing is moving and poetic, with plenty of word-play. It's challenging and funny without ever taking the obvious and tested methods. I would have to say that the writing might not be to everyone's taste, there is plenty of mulling over and description, but for me this just added to the experience.

I loved Oskar and although it is hard to believe that a nine year old would be so accomplished it isn't impossible. There are many explorations in this novel of how people attempt to cope with or make sense of loss. I found the grandfather's story the most moving...to leave an unborn child becasue you can't cope with the thought that one day you may lose it.

I cried through large chunks of this book, and even though it could have been my hormones, it might be one to avoid if you have recently suffered bereavement or if you're going through a rough patch.

I'd give it six stars if I could. Remarkable.
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Format: Paperback
Having really enjoyed 'Everything is Illuminated' I approached this with caution. I was prepared to be disappointed by 'second book syndrome'. However, having read this it seems that Jonathan Safran Foer is a real talent and not a one book wonder. This is modern literature at its best. The book is witty, insightful and incredibly sad.

Like 'Everything is Illuminated' this is a book written from several viewpoints. We have the story of Oskar whose father was a victim of 9/11 searching New York a lock to fit a key he finds in a vase belonging to his father. This is probably the best part of the book and provides its meat. Oskar is 9 years old and has about every hang up you can imagine. In some ways this part of the book reminds me of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime' though its never stated that the boy has Asperger's syndrome. Oskar is however obsessive and seems to veer strongly towards an autistic personality.

The second and third parts of the book are more in the magical realist style that Foer used for the story of the shtetl in 'Everything is Illuminated'. It follows the relationship between Oskar's Grandmother and Grandfather who is literally dumb and has to communicate by writing. The relationship begins in Dresden immediately prior to the bombing in 1945 and through this provides a sympathetic analogy to the loss of Oskar's father and of course his Grandmother's son in 9/11.

This is a huge achievement considering that 9/11 is still so fresh in everybody's mind. Brave writing that deserves to be read.
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Format: Paperback
Can love bear all things? Can it believe all things? Is there still room for hope in a world where we see only despair and man's inhumanity to man? Do we have the courage to love knowing the pain of loss? In a chokingly heartbreaking tale which interweaves narratives from different generations of a family ripped open by events so harrowing that they, in one generation, literally take one's voice away, a nine year old boy searches for a lock through which some answers might lie, to help him keep close to a Father taken from him in 9/11.

This book is so utterly convincing that I sobbed through most of its 300 plus pages. If you mix 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' with 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' and then throw in something like 'Birdsong', you might end up with a book like this. It's the best book I've read all year. Please, please read it.

J E Riddell
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By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Mar. 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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