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)
This book has generally received very good reviews so I must be the odd man out here. I found it to be mostly boring with one of the most dysfunctional families I have every had the displeasure to meet. While the story is supposedly about the search of a boy for the origins of a key linked to his father, there are really 3 main characters in the book; Oscar, the boy, his grandmother and his grandfather.
Oscar, the boy who lost his father in the 9/11 terrorist attack, seems largely normal for a boy his age and reminds me somewhat of myself at that age, although he carries more phobias that any boy I ever met growing up in New York City. Some of that probably is supposed to come from the experience of losing his father but some seem to come from nowhere I can understand and it strains credibility that a boy who lives in New York who is afraid to get on a ferry or ride a subway will plan to walk all over the 5 boroughs of New York looking for the person who knows something about the key he found. It seems even stranger that his mother allows him to do this without being overly concerned. But, even if you can live with that it is even more difficult to understand his grandparents.
His grandmother and grandfather are decidedly strange and, since their story constitutes about 60% of the book, that is not a trivial thing. The stream-of-consciousness writing and the total lack of any relationship between their story and Oscar's makes it difficult for me to understand why it is even part of this book. Add to that the fact that they are not particularly interesting characters and that their relationship strains credulity and you have a recipe for a meaningless book.
Perhaps it is because I worked as an engineer and expect events to bear some relationship to the story that I found this book so disjointed and without purpose. Perhaps those who are more open to the psychology of people rather than the purposeful relationships of events will find this book more interesting and worthwhile. I found it to be boring and it took an effort for me to finish it. On the upside the book is well narrated and there are some interesting surprises but I am unable to give this book more than 3 stars.
Lots of interesting stuff in this book and I highly recommend the audio version which has several narrators because it is hard enough to follow the story on audio, let alone trying to read it in an actual paper book (or ebook), in my opinion. Great and creative characters and writing. The movie by the same name was easier to follow and helped simplify some of what I felt were the more complicated storylines in the book.
I love books and movies that can make you see things in a new way. JSF deftly twined a story around characters spanning a wide age range and very different backgrounds. I loved the grandmother's quiet strength and determination, the mother's attempt to cope and keep living, the grandfather's inability to cope and the little boys tender, wonderful memories of his father. That day impacted us all. This is a wonder glimpse into several lives out of many that shared in that tragedy. This book made me cry my eyes out, which is a little embarrassing while sitting in random places with earphones in.
Despite the negative reviews, I enjoyed the book. Kind of depressing, on several levels, but intriguing as well. I would recommend it. It is not a shiny, perky book. It takes a little deeper, darker view of life, but it feels very real.
I normally don't enjoy books written in the voice of a child but this is an exception. It's a charming tale about trying make reason out of a world that is confusing and frightening.
It took me a minute to get into it but I was glad I finished it.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
This audio book disappointed me, though I did listen until the end. The number of good reviews stumped me. I thought this was a book about a boy who lost his father when the twin towers fell in the 9/11 attack. It isn't. The boy is very bright, maybe a genius. But the entire book is a book of prose, that is not very well connected. The fact that Oscar, the little boy, has to talk so much about sex and human anatomy is totally unnecessary and lends nothing to the book, and the grandmother tales of sex with the grandfather are even more superficial (in my opinion). The most disappointing thing about the whole book is that no one ever grows up, takes responsibility for their actions, and begins to live in a healthy manner. The mother indulges the boy (Oscar), the grandmother and grandfather both relate separately with their grandson, as if the other doesn't exist, and Oscar basically fends for himself. While the attacks of 9/11 were absolutely horrendous, they have nothing on other historical events such as the holocaust, where real heroes emerged, victorious over their circumstances. I found myself angry at the grandfather's self-pity and self-indulgence, after he had suffered a loss in his life, and how he let it affect the lives of his family. A time of feeling sorry for oneself is to be expected, but for heaven's sake, you finally have to grow up. This book just goes round and round and ends up nowhere.
Mom, birdwatcher, and online teacher
No, this book is obviously overrated. Try to get it from the library if you must read it.
Not necessarily, but it would be nice to know how graphic the language is before purchasing
No. Didn't like the first one.
I know that these days people enjoy potty humor and rude terms for pieces of female anatomy, but I find them offensive. If you are like me, don't bother purchasing this book.
I began to listen to the book but turned it off immediately because of the painful reading, choosing instead to download on my Kindle. I then only listened to the parts that were too small to read on my kindle. (there were pages and pages of tiny print in the book that could not be enlarged on the kindle). The performances were tortured and boring and, worst of all, read too slowly and deliberately . Ugh!
I think the problem of the performances was one of direction. Some one did not have faith in an easy and brisk performance, which were tortured and hammy . Please do not ask your actors to ENUNCIATE if what you hear in the studio is already audible. It will be audible as well on my device. Long pauses between sentences are not necessary. This is a common problem with audible books. One must make a choice: Either it will be a straight reading, or it will be a performance. Please PLEASE do not combine the two!.Thanks.
I just couldn't finish it. After only a couple of hours of listening, I just couldn't hear any more about this preternaturally sensitive, thoughtful, and intelligent child. He was not a credible character and I was tired of pretending that any child would think and act like this.
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.
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