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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Jonathan Safran Foer
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,199 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination.
Meet Oskar Schell, 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. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone's heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who've lost loved ones before. 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 who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.


Editorial Reviews

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.

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 7480 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (September 3, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003K16PXC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,986 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
580 of 626 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars some will hate, others love--too contrived for me October 15, 2005
Format:Hardcover
Extremely Loud is one of those novels that more than most will live or die on a particular reader's personal taste. Some will find it's twinned tales of a 9-year-old's grief over his father's death on 9/11 and his grandparents' tale of woe (centering on the Dresden firebombing) incredibly moving. Others will find it typographical and textual experiments wildly stimulating (blank pages, color plates, pages of nothing but numbers, photos, etc.). And some will have no trouble suspending disbelief with regard to Oskar's incredible precociousness or the fairy-tale quality of the New York City he moves in. Others, though, will find the book sentimental rather than emotional, cloying rather than powerful. The experimentation will be gimmicky distractions that mar rather than enhance the story. And the narrator's various quirks and gifts (his tambourine play, his vocabulary, his inventions and lists of aphorisms) not only unbelievable but almost unreadable. The lucky thing is it won't take you long to figure out which reader you're going to be. If the former, you'll settle in for an enjoyable ride. If the latter, it will be a long argument with yourself over just where you'll finally give in and quit reading.

Unfortunately, I fell into the latter category. It's rare that I come across a book that can have so much good writing in it that also makes me regularly want to hurl it across the room while I claw out my eyes. In the end, ELIC was a story ruined by talent, though I couldn't decide if it was insecure talent (propping up his story with gimmicks) or self-indulgent talent (throwing in everything and anything just cause he could).

As mentioned, the story centers on young Oskar, whose father left him several phone messages before being killed on 9/11.
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615 of 675 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loud and lovely March 10, 2005
Format:Hardcover
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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400 of 478 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It deverves more than 5 March 16, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I just finished reading this wonderful book, and I really can't describe all the feelings swirling inside of me. This is more than a book with a story, it is an experience.

When I write my reviews I never describe the plot of the book, because Amazon does it very well, and of course other people do it in their reviews....so no need.

Well, even if I wanted to describe this book I couldn't. So again, I will just tell you why I loved it.

Mr. Foer is a wonderful writer. I had not read his first book yet, although I will do that now, but something in the description of this book caught my eye, so I tried it.

I laughed and cried and even when I was laughing, I was profoundly sad. I loved the characters and their flaws, their fears, their stories, their realistic humanity even among such unrealistic situations. I just can't describe how much I loved this book or why, but it has been put on my shelf of favorite books, to be read and reread, or experienced and experienced again. Again, it made me so sad and yet, when I was done, the sadness was mixed with such wonder and even hope. Mr. Foer, you are a marvel, to the readers, don't miss this one.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a good book to read on a Kindle December 31, 2009
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My husband found this book to be brilliant after reading the paperback edition. Since I had just purchased my Kindle, I wanted to read it on my Kindle. Unfortunately, due to a large number of illustrations in the book, this is not a good read for a Kindle. I was very happy to be able to look up pages on the paperback to be sure of what I was seeing. The Kindle graphics are not quite up to this book yet. I think I lost a lot of the enjoyment of the book due to this fact.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it!
Published 16 hours ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars ... as a gift and was told it was a good book.
I bought it as a gift and was told it was a good book.
Published 3 days ago by Carol
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Hard to get into.
Published 5 days ago by Alicia
4.0 out of 5 stars moving and strange
The writing was exquisite and the sadness was excruciating. An interesting and powerful way to bring 9/11 home in a very personal way. Picaresque also in a way.
Published 8 days ago by Nancy Thompson
3.0 out of 5 stars I loved it. I hated it.
For probably two thirds of the book, I considered putting it away and reading something else. I had a hard time following the narrative, was often confused as to whose voice I was... Read more
Published 8 days ago by suellen j darblay
5.0 out of 5 stars Immersive and immediate
I loved this book because, from the beginning, the writing style, language, and plot draw you into the mind of a very special child. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Amy L. Ausbun
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read, and much better than the movie!
Published 13 days ago by AtHome
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Story!
Glad I ignored the bad reviews and read this. I enjoyed this story and the characters very much. If you think you are going to like a book, do not let others unkind reviews keep... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Balletomane
4.0 out of 5 stars How Oskar dealt with his 9/11 grief
You can't blame young Oskar Schell for his 'heavy boots.' Oskar's father died on September 11, 2001, a casualty of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings in... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Scrapple8
2.0 out of 5 stars I didn't like the language either
I had high expectation. I have found the plot too complex, sometimes I had the feeling some caracters were too extreme.
I didn't like the language either.
Published 16 days ago by Marco Gulisano
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More About the Author

Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the bestseller Everything Is Illuminated, named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the winner of numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Prize. Foer was one of Rolling Stone's "People of the Year" and Esquire's "Best and Brightest." Foreign rights to his new novel have already been sold in ten countries. The film of Everything Is Illuminated, directed by Liev Schreiber and starring Elijah Wood, will be released in August 2005. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been optioned for film by Scott Rudin Productions in conjunction with Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures. Foer lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Topic From this Discussion
Definite Format Problem!
I have the same exact problem, and am also reading a copy borrowed from the library. I contacted overdrive support (library), and they said Amazon couldn't replicate the issue, and to delete and re-download the file to my Kindle. I did this and the pages are still illegible. I'm wondering if... Read More
Jun 25, 2012 by S. Guy |  See all 5 posts
Question about the title
I totally agree!
Feb 11, 2012 by jeri shaw |  See all 10 posts
sending a kindle book as a gift...
I have.

Basically, you click "send as a gift" and it emails the book to her. You can decide which date you want it sent (I set it to send to my boyfriend via email on Valentines day).
Then she can download and transfer to kindle via a cable or Whispernet, just like usual.

Hope this...
Feb 15, 2012 by L. Booth |  See all 2 posts
Welcome to the Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close forum
Gotta say, I found this work breathtaking. It occured to me at some point that this novel is how my grandchildren will come to understand 9/11. They'll see the video coverage of course but this will stand out as the literary work that best encapsulates that time.

What Foer does is nod to his... Read More
Jun 3, 2009 by Stephanie Merchant |  See all 8 posts
Was disconnected while half way through!
1 of 2 people think the above post ads to the discussion! Lol!
Feb 15, 2012 by L. Booth |  See all 2 posts
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