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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Paperback – November 1, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 1,389 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This follow-up to Foer's extremely good and incredibly successful Everything Is Illuminated (2002) stars one Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old amateur inventor and Shakespearean actor. But Oskar's boots, as he likes to say, are very heavy--his father, whom he worshiped, perished in the World Trade Center on 9/11. In his dad's closet a year later, Oskar finds a key in a vase mysteriously labeled "Black." So he goes searching after the lock it opens, visiting (alphabetically) everyone listed in the phone book with the surname Black. Oskar, who's a cross between The Tin Drum's Oskar Matzerath and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time's Christopher Boone, doesn't always sound like he's nine, but his first-person narration of his journey is arrestingly beautiful, and readers won't soon forget him. A subplot about Oskar's mute grandfather, who survived the bombing of Dresden, isn't as compelling as Oskar's quest for the lock, but when the stories finally come together, the result is an emotionally devastating climax. No spoilers here, but we will say that the book--which includes a number of photographs and some eccentric typography--ends with what is undoubtedly the most beautiful and heartbreaking flip book in all of literature. REVWR
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547735022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547735023
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,389 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By B. Capossere TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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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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6 Comments 627 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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.
5 Comments 414 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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