Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Paperback – 25 May 2006
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"[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. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hard to put down but painful to read, Oskar's search for clues to his father's death in the twin towers is blurred by the things people don't say to each other even in their times... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Sally Teatherdege
Very strange read - chapter 2 initially, impossible to know what is happening. Worth continuing through this, all characters need help!Published 4 months ago by Pete
I would give this book ten stars. It is one of the best books I have ever read. It is so beautiful. It is written very differently to a lot of books, but not in such a way that... Read morePublished 4 months ago by missjeff
Loved the book, but was disappointed by the ending. The whole book sets up for something more, and it's like the rug is pulled out from under you - perhaps that's how Foer meant... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Heather Louise
I'm finding it hard to pin down exactly what I loved about the book so much, but what I do know is that the experience of reading it was wonderful. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Janine Holmes