Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is a precocious Francophile who idolizes Stephen Hawking and plays the tambourine extremely well. He's also a boy struggling to come to terms with his father's death in the World Trade Center attacks. As he searches New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key his father left behind, Oskar discovers much more than he could have imagined.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a masterfully imagined novel from an author Time hails as "a certified wunderkind".
©2005 Jonathan Safran Foer; (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC
"Piercing and so funny." (The Bookseller)
"[Oskar's] first-person narration of his journey is arrestingly beautiful, and readers won't soon forget him." (Booklist)
"Jonathan Safran Foer's second novel is everything one hoped it would be: ambitious, pyrotechnic, riddling, and above all...extremely moving. An exceptional achievement." (Salman Rushdie)
"Brilliant....Unafraid to show his traumatized characters' constant groping for emotional catharsis, Foer demonstrates once again that he is one of the few contemporary writers willing to risk sentimentalism in order to address great questions of truth, love, and beauty." (Publishers Weekly)
Audible Member Since 2003
I will not attempt to add to what so many other reviewers have so eloquently stated. The story of a boy who lost his father in the 911 attacks would seem to be a dreary one indeed. This is NOT the case.
I loved the voice of the writing as told from the perspective of a young, precocious, intrepid vulnerable boy. This book still gives me a warm feeling, months after having finished it.
Fast approaching retirement as a life long oncology nurse. I love family more than anything. I enjoy reading (audio only), movies, travels, paper crafting, photography, gardening and just being alive.
Read this book. Listen to this book. It is that good. I saw the movie when it came out and though I enjoyed the movie - they do not compare. The book is a whole new story. You get to hear the thoughts of young Oskar and his grandparents. There is no way a movie can convey those thoughts. This author is brilliant. Truly brilliant. He ties so many things together - the parallels between the beginning of World War II and the World Trade Center disaster. I don't want to start a new book because I don't want to forget this one.
Occasionally I want to start a book over as soon as I finish it, but only one other time have I actually done it. I just couldn't let go of this one right away. It is brilliantly written and always thought provoking, not to mention creative in its approach. It has been quite a while since I listened to a book that I just couldn't wait to get back to but that is how this one affected me, and that is a mark of a great story.
My only criticism of this book is that nine-year-old Oscar is so smart that you would mistake him for a much older and wiser person. He is never at a loss for words and can handle the situations he constantly encounters as he looks for the lock. He just seems to know too much for his age, not just too much "book learning", but too much about life. He is so wise and sees things so clearly in many instances, things that for most people can only be learned by experience, which just takes time. But I can overlook that to get to the story. The characters are all well developed, interesting and often surprising, as are the plot and sub plots.
This book is a great commentary on life, on how all of us have tragedies and victories, on how a small decision one day can change the course of our lives, and how some events irreversibly change all of our lives. I highly recommend it.
Love to exercise while listening
I kept waiting for something to happen
Story didn't seem to move fast enough for me.
Not sure if it was his easy style that made the book a little on the boring side.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
Half an hour into the book I thought I was in for a tedious slog. Oskar, the more than precocious little boy who is the main character, wore me out fairly quickly with his wide-eyed naivete and remarkable imagination. This seemed like a writer who was trying way too hard. Gradually it became clear that it was Oskar who was trying way too hard, and the pain and confusion which were driving him were brought artfully into focus by some really brilliant writing. Still, Oskar's story by itself would not have sustained the book and, for me, the growing beauty of the narrative began to blossom with the entrance of his grandfather and grandmother, each relating his/her own journey in a continuous, Rashomon-like shift of perspectives. As things progress, these three points of view begin to construct a kind of hall of mirrors which finally can only be resolved by accepting all of them as true.
For me the book finally became poetry, not of word, though the use of language is often exquisite, but of narrative detail. Some readers have had problems with the far fetched elements of the story--a man who loses spoken language one word at a time until the only word he has left is "I" and then loses that as well. A man who, each day after the death of his wife, drives a new nail into the bed he built for her and shared with her, until the thing weighs so much that he must construct a column to support the floor beneath it--and cannot say why he does it. These are brilliant and profound poetic images which accumulate through the course of the book and resist a one for one interpretation of "meaning." They mean what they do-to-you as you encounter them and let them under your skin. They are improbable and entirely true.
Most reviewers seem most taken by Oskar but, perhaps because I am older than the average, I was most deeply affected by the grandmother and grandfather. I found their narratives deeply moving and evocative of the struggle we so often have with intimacy and being known by those closest to us. I recommend the book most enthusiastically to those who have loved or almost loved for many years and are still struggling to get it right.
Incidentally, the book actually has very little to do with 9/11 but a great deal to do with loss, healing and our amazing capacity to rediscover things we think we have lost forever. It lifted my spirits and made my heart swell.
...although I'm not quite sure what I expected.
I downloaded this book to listen to on vacation and was a little skeptical about a sad book down by the beach. It wasn't quite like that though. The book is surprisingly heartwarming, the characters loveable, the innocence of youth, refreshing.
The book isn't ABOUT 9/11. It's about the life that happens around it. It's about the sadness, but it's also about how life continues buzzing even after dreadful events. Not just 9/11 but the war, too.
Simply put, it's a balance: on one hand, its the pain, the sorrow, the hurt, the sadness, the loneliness, the scars. On the other, it's the beauty of innocence, the wonder of life itself, the power of imagination, the strength of love. It's all beautifully woven together.
Worth the listen.
Tell us about yourself! I love to escape into a good book.
This book is about the effects of grief and how one family copes with the loss of a beloved father. The novel begins sometime after that fateful day 9/11. Thomas Schell, father, son, and husband, perished in the attacks, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is narrated by his son, Oskar. It's interspersed with letters from Oskar's grandfather to his son, Thomas, and letters from Oskar's grandmother to Oskar. Together it tells the history of this family, and the pain and suffering caused by the loss of their loved one.
I found this incredibly moving.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close can be uplifting and soul searing at different times. With the horrors and wounds of the 9/11 attacks still fresh, this novel may hit too close to home for some people. By the end of this book, how that awful day happened for all members of Oskar's family is known, and beyond the pain lies hope, and Oskar is not as alone as he thinks he is. Oskar Schell's story is one to cherish, and perhaps that metaphor for the lost innocence of the world is one we all ought to acknowledge and embrace.
Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.
I think that this is one of the best books I have ever read. This book and The Book Thief are amazing stories of love and loss and heartbreak and very important historical events seen through the eyes of children. I read this book first and now have listened to it. The only thing that is lost is that in the book you get to see pages from Oskar's journals "Stuff that Has Happened to Me" It is the story of a family set at the time of about a year after Septmber 11. Oskar is 9 and having a hard time dealing with the death of his father. His mother is having a hard time dealing with him and her own grief. This is also the story of his grandmother and grandfather. It is an excellent family drama and I loved it.
An affective translation of an unusually produced book to audio. The pacing of the narrative voice brings as much meaning to the words spoken as the silences between them.
One can not help but have both viseral and emotional reactions to this most human of stories. I laughed out loud. Tears ran down my face. I thought deeply about my own losses and of the expectations I have of those most close to me.
This was my first Audible audio book and I was pleasantly surprised. EL&IC follows the story of young Oskar Schell on a quest that he believes will help him feel closer to his father who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center. I've been told that this is a book that's best read, not heard, but the three narrators were great actors and conveyed much more than I would have thought they could.
The story is told through narratives by the three main characters; Oskar, his paternal grandfather and his paternal grandmother. The narrative shifts from character to character, always without warning and sometimes at jarring times. I found some narratives more compelling than others, growing weary about midway through the book of listening to Oskar's grandfather's narrative, but as the book approached resolution I found his narrative fascinating again.
Occasionally the story was slow. Occasionally it was repetitive to the point of minor annoyance. Occasionally I found myself thinking that Oskar's many idiosyncracies felt horribly contrived. But as the narrative closed, I found myself wanting to learn more about quirky young Oskar and his world. It was well worth the listen.
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