Hot Best Seller

Příšerně nahlas a k nevíře blízko

Availability: Ready to download

Druhý román amerického autora, kterému už prvotina Naprosto osvětleno získala velký věhlas. Její název odkazuje na všechny ty velké, důležité a strašné věci, které rozhodují o našem životě; jak autor tvrdí, láska, válka, násilí či moc se vždycky projevují "příšerně nahlas" a jsou vždycky "k nevíře blízko". Oskar Schell, hlavní postava románu, je vynálezce, milovník franco Druhý román amerického autora, kterému už prvotina Naprosto osvětleno získala velký věhlas. Její název odkazuje na všechny ty velké, důležité a strašné věci, které rozhodují o našem životě; jak autor tvrdí, láska, válka, násilí či moc se vždycky projevují "příšerně nahlas" a jsou vždycky "k nevíře blízko". Oskar Schell, hlavní postava románu, je vynálezce, milovník francouzské kultury, hráč na tamburínu, shakespearovský herec, šperkař, pacifista, origamista, detektiv, vegan a sběratel motýlů. A mimochodem – je mu devět let. Když jeho otec zahyne při teroristickém útoku na New York v září 2001, Oskar najde v jeho pozůstalosti záhadný klíč a začíná pátrat. Hledání jej provede celým New Yorkem, podivnými životy mnoha jeho obyvatel, ale zatáhne jej i na cestu do dějin a do hlubin vlastní rodící se osobnosti. Druhá kniha J. S. Foera je zábavná, dojímavá a lidská a při autorově mládí až nečekaně vyzrálá.


Compare

Druhý román amerického autora, kterému už prvotina Naprosto osvětleno získala velký věhlas. Její název odkazuje na všechny ty velké, důležité a strašné věci, které rozhodují o našem životě; jak autor tvrdí, láska, válka, násilí či moc se vždycky projevují "příšerně nahlas" a jsou vždycky "k nevíře blízko". Oskar Schell, hlavní postava románu, je vynálezce, milovník franco Druhý román amerického autora, kterému už prvotina Naprosto osvětleno získala velký věhlas. Její název odkazuje na všechny ty velké, důležité a strašné věci, které rozhodují o našem životě; jak autor tvrdí, láska, válka, násilí či moc se vždycky projevují "příšerně nahlas" a jsou vždycky "k nevíře blízko". Oskar Schell, hlavní postava románu, je vynálezce, milovník francouzské kultury, hráč na tamburínu, shakespearovský herec, šperkař, pacifista, origamista, detektiv, vegan a sběratel motýlů. A mimochodem – je mu devět let. Když jeho otec zahyne při teroristickém útoku na New York v září 2001, Oskar najde v jeho pozůstalosti záhadný klíč a začíná pátrat. Hledání jej provede celým New Yorkem, podivnými životy mnoha jeho obyvatel, ale zatáhne jej i na cestu do dějin a do hlubin vlastní rodící se osobnosti. Druhá kniha J. S. Foera je zábavná, dojímavá a lidská a při autorově mládí až nečekaně vyzrálá.

30 review for Příšerně nahlas a k nevíře blízko

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    There are books that affect me and then there are books that kill me. This falls in the latter. I cried on the couch, I cried on the bus, I cried at stoplights, I cried at work.. I cried more over this book than I did on the actual September 11th. Then I became upset that this piece of fiction could invoke such melancholia. Can I use the excuse of being in shock during the actual event? That it seemed like a movie? I have no excuse. Flash back: The second half of 1994, my then boyfriend and I li There are books that affect me and then there are books that kill me. This falls in the latter. I cried on the couch, I cried on the bus, I cried at stoplights, I cried at work.. I cried more over this book than I did on the actual September 11th. Then I became upset that this piece of fiction could invoke such melancholia. Can I use the excuse of being in shock during the actual event? That it seemed like a movie? I have no excuse. Flash back: The second half of 1994, my then boyfriend and I living in the East Village, 23 years old and clueless. We were broke most of the time, not much into clubbing, so about 4 out of 7 nights we would walk. Never north.. only through the Village or SoHo and eventually our meandering would lead us to the Towers. No matter what path we’d take, it was our destination. I remember many nights sitting on this ratty red paint peeled bench staring across the river at Jersey, specifically the Colgate sign, and just talking about everything. Hours sped by and we’d drag our sorry asses back to the train and to our tiny apartment. I remember nights where I’d hug the side of Tower One, pressing against it and lift my head as far back as I could and stare up until the glass met the sky and I’d get so dizzy I’d stumble back. I remember the night that we decided to marry, I remember exchanging our vows leaning against the railing staring up, always up. I haven’t been to New York in 13 years, I can’t even imagine a New York without those buildings. Anyway… There are 43 ‘Incrediblys’ and 63 ‘Extremelys’ within this book. Does anyone really ever use those adverbs anymore? Is anything ever extreme or incredible enough for us? My daughter has taken to using ‘perfectly’ in almost every sentence and it brings a smile to my face each time. The journey that the boy, Oskar, takes in this book is beautiful. The need to feel close to his father who died in the attacks, to spend just a bit more time with him. While Oskar is a bit unbelievable as a character, I felt that that was soon overshadowed by the images presented. I know I do this a lot in reviews, but I can’t help it: Lines like “Being with him made my brain quiet. I didn’t have to invent a thing.” or “ My insides don’t match up with my outsides.” and “It takes a life to learn how to live.” I’m a sucker for a good line. When Oskar is anxious he describes it as ‘wearing heavy boots’ and when his Grandmother likes something or in a good mood she uses the term ‘that was One Hundred Dollars’ and then there’s a whole mention of a ‘Birdseed shirt’ that I’m still unclear about but enjoy the imagery of. But, this isn’t just Oskar’s journey.. this is also about Oskar’s grandparents and that piece is as strong as his story, sometimes stronger. I won’t go into that anymore, I’ll let you read about it. Some have called this ‘gimmicky’ or ‘precious’ but I was truly moved by this story and combined with the images presented, it will stay with me for a very long time to come. As will 1994.

  2. 4 out of 5

    brian

    well, i'm naturally drawn to those people who are overwhelmed by existence, by people who hurt too easily; who, for them, life seems to be almost too much: for whom the unceasing cacophony of thought and memory and idea is just too painful and all the cruelty and the violence is inconceivable and the mystery of life and love and foreverness and the past and all of it is just overwhelming to the point in which one wishes one could scream so loud that it would just make it all go away, that one co well, i'm naturally drawn to those people who are overwhelmed by existence, by people who hurt too easily; who, for them, life seems to be almost too much: for whom the unceasing cacophony of thought and memory and idea is just too painful and all the cruelty and the violence is inconceivable and the mystery of life and love and foreverness and the past and all of it is just overwhelming to the point in which one wishes one could scream so loud that it would just make it all go away, that one could exorcise all of it, that one could just somehow leave, just leave their body and leave the planet and get away from all the people and all the loss and all the memories that sit in the stomach and the chest and the throat and just get away from death and from the monotony of everyday life and also from the hysteria of those moments, those big lifechangers, and leave behind the fact that he will die and that everyone he knows or ever has known will one day be a slab of meat in a wooden box. it's too much sometimes. and fuck if you are a writer that can somehow come up with the means to tell a story, a small story even, to summarize the totality of what it means to be alive on planet earth and to live amongst and around all these people and memories and ghosts and all the potential and possibilities... well, shit. how did this young twerp do it? and it's not perfect. yeah, it is precious at times, and, yes, he doesn't always mix tone that well, there are scenes that feel heightened when they could've played straight to more powerful effect, and blahblahblah. but fuck if the flaws don't add to the whole. i'd be suspicious if it was perfect because life itself is a messy affair. and that's what this book is about. but what are you going to do? leave it? no. you stick around. and you find those people you love and you never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever let go. and if they're taken from you or leave you, you rail and rant against your god or your country or their country or a cold uncaring universe or nature or dumb luck and you scream and you cry and threaten suicide or murder and pull out your hair and punch cement walls and then -- then you quiet down and mend your knuckles and straighten your hair and put down the gun and stop guzzling the bourbon and you get your shit together and you move on. but you're never the same.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    There must be something wrong with me. I’m not as smart as my goodreader friends. I lack empathy. My humor is deficient. I have no compassion. And I suck at life. Of the 40 of you “friends” who read this, this is how you rated it: 5-stars: 18 people 4-stars: 13 people 3-stars: 7 people 2-stars: 2 people 1-star: 0 people Something wrong with me indeed. (Or something wrong with all of you.) No. I didn’t finish it. I value opportunity and freedom too much for that. I listened to it. People tell me if I had There must be something wrong with me. I’m not as smart as my goodreader friends. I lack empathy. My humor is deficient. I have no compassion. And I suck at life. Of the 40 of you “friends” who read this, this is how you rated it: 5-stars: 18 people 4-stars: 13 people 3-stars: 7 people 2-stars: 2 people 1-star: 0 people Something wrong with me indeed. (Or something wrong with all of you.) No. I didn’t finish it. I value opportunity and freedom too much for that. I listened to it. People tell me if I had read it instead of listening to it I would have liked it more. I now tell them that I don’t care. I have returned this grouping of compact discs to my local library. They are now safely out of my hands. Its twelve separate discs no longer have to worry about me yelling obscenities at them extremely loudly. They need not be concerned that they get thrown again at the passenger side door, incredibly closely. So go away Jonathan Safran Foer. Don’t cry for me Argentina. It’s your birthday, don’t cry if you want to. Stop your sobbing. I was crying just to get you, now I'm dying cause I let you -- do what you do down on me. Or not. Okay, please don’t. Seriously, I’ve had enough. You are cheesy and you annoy me. I’m done. So take your forced cuteness and your vegan cupcakes and go home.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bart

    When Thomas Pynchon invented what James Wood later named “hyper realism”, he did literature no favors. To read Pynchon is to witness genius at its most joyless. A mind capable of inventing myriad things and compelled to record them all. But at least Pynchon showed genius. What Jonathan Safran Foer shows, however, is mere gimmickry. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close takes readers who thought they might have seen a glimmer of greatness in Everything is Illuminated and convinces them all they real When Thomas Pynchon invented what James Wood later named “hyper realism”, he did literature no favors. To read Pynchon is to witness genius at its most joyless. A mind capable of inventing myriad things and compelled to record them all. But at least Pynchon showed genius. What Jonathan Safran Foer shows, however, is mere gimmickry. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close takes readers who thought they might have seen a glimmer of greatness in Everything is Illuminated and convinces them all they really saw were special effects. It’s very difficult to read Foer’s second novel without reflecting on his first. Everything is Illuminated began in such an original way that a reader forgave the 150 or so dull pages of less-than-compelling writing that came along throughout the rest of the book. The reader forgave the puerile reflections on the Holocaust and the manufactured confession of homosexuality. Because the book began so originally. But Foer is a one-trick pony. In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, he’s once more co-opted a mass tragedy and made a fruit salad of it with various voices and narrative tricks. Oh sure, the book has an underlying tone of sadness – sadness, not seriousness – because, clever as he wants to be, Foer didn’t dare go wholehog with a tragedy still as fresh as 9/11. But that’s about the only restriction he put on his vanity. To indulge himself with a hundred irritating digressions and quips, Foer invented a child narrator. This has become more and more common among the hyper-realism set in the last 10 years. Raised by guidance counselors who told them to never stop being childish, these novelists give us hundreds of pages of “exploring their inner child” – all under the guise of serious artistic endeavor. But this is not serious art. This is an author who makes the easy choice every time. When he thinks he has something profound to say, he doesn’t hesitate to have his nine-year-old narrator couch things in college-level language. The rest of the time, when he feels like writing about whichever page of the encyclopedia he happened to turn to that morning, he has the little professor wander off wherever he wishes, always with a literary safety net that says, “I’m trying to depict the world through a child’s eyes!” But we should ask ourselves why a novelist feels compelled to depict a mass tragedy through a child’s eyes. After all, this isn’t biography; Foer could have depicted the tragedy through anyone’s eyes at all. Better put, when he sat down to write about the savagery of Napoleon’s 1812 battle with Russia, why didn’t Leo Tolstoy depict the burning of Moscow through the eyes of a nine-year-old and his nutty and mute grandfather? Probably because a nine-year-old would have limited Tolstoy’s vocabulary too drastically; a nine-year-old doesn’t know enough to say anything original about war. Tolstoy, in other words, was too concerned about making an original commentary to worry about being a “fresh new voice!” in the contemporary fiction scene. Tolstoy took a large subject and made it larger. Foer takes a large subject and makes it tiny. But sometimes, I’ve learned, large things must be tiny. That’s how Foer’s narrator would say it. And he’d be wrong, of course. But then, that’s why we don’t publish books written by nine-year-olds.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    A more apt title would have been Terribly Artificial and Unbearably Pretentious. This seems like the kind of thing I would have thought was a profound idea when I myself was nine, laboring on crayon illustrations to include with my manuscript into the wee hours of the morning. Maybe that means Foer succeeded. I happen to think it means his efforts were an abject failure, and that he has a great many readers and critics completely snowed. With a book like this, you either accept it as charming wis A more apt title would have been Terribly Artificial and Unbearably Pretentious. This seems like the kind of thing I would have thought was a profound idea when I myself was nine, laboring on crayon illustrations to include with my manuscript into the wee hours of the morning. Maybe that means Foer succeeded. I happen to think it means his efforts were an abject failure, and that he has a great many readers and critics completely snowed. With a book like this, you either accept it as charming wistfulness, or you don’t. You either think random tabbing on pages is innovative, or you don’t. You think empty pages and single phrases on other pages is a daring deconstruction of traditional publishing mores, or you don’t. I don’t. Foer’s grieving young narrator is a ridiculous creation, the book’s pagination is something a stricter editor should have vomited upon, and the situations in which Oskar finds himself are fabricated of glitter-encrusted papier-mâché. This story is never once believable; therefore any emotion generated is as phony as a three-dollar bill. Now don’t misunderstand; I read lots of far-fetched books, so I believe genuine emotion can be achieved through stories about the tooth fairy, WMDs, sympathetic lawyers or any number of myths. But too many times in this book, people do things just to do them, and things happen just to have them happen or to give Foer scanty reason to wax poetic for pages at a time – without such bourgeoisie restrictions as paragraphs or punctuation (or sensible storytelling) muddling up the artiste’s vision. Foer’s stream-of-consciousness narrative reminds me of the saying about the infinite monkeys: sooner or later one of an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters is going to randomly type the complete works of Shakespeare. Except in Foer’s case, it’s as though he was one of the monkeys in the middle of infinity, a bright but underachieving chimpanzee picking nits and banging the keys petulantly with a hardened piece of fecal matter. If Foer wished to write a thick book entirely in free verse (broken up with pictures now and again so people don’t become “bored”), then he should have had the cajones to do so, not foist this vanity project upon the public under the guise of a novel claiming to be about reaction to 9/11. This is a book for a self-important Attention-Deficit society. I think most people in today’s age of texting while driving and non-stop news alerts and picture-in-picture don’t actually read every word on the page anyway. They scan pages looking for the “good stuff,” and that’s all they remember. So therefore they’re not put off by the author’s interminable ramblings, his attempt to bludgeon the reader with a thick blanket of nonsensical phrases, hoping they will be distracted into thinking they come together to create some sort of profound stew greater than the sum of its silly parts. But for those of us who think each word matters, this practice is annoying subterfuge, and ultimately meaningless.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    I’m Oskar with a k like Liza with a Z cause Oskar with a k is krazy (also kind, klever and kultured). I’m 10 going on Dalai Lama. I make jewellery (I know!) and collect butterflies who have died naturally and play a tambourine constantly. You have to wonder why no one has killed me since I must drive people insane with my maximum cuteness. Oh, and have shortwave radio conversations with my grandma over in another desirable residence in the Upper West Side. I have empathy for every living thing i I’m Oskar with a k like Liza with a Z cause Oskar with a k is krazy (also kind, klever and kultured). I’m 10 going on Dalai Lama. I make jewellery (I know!) and collect butterflies who have died naturally and play a tambourine constantly. You have to wonder why no one has killed me since I must drive people insane with my maximum cuteness. Oh, and have shortwave radio conversations with my grandma over in another desirable residence in the Upper West Side. I have empathy for every living thing including you. This great and terrible tragedy happened to me so nobody, not even those horrid GR people, can make fun of me, even when I’m so twee a hobbit would thwow up all over the nearest elf. This is the way I speak with my Mom : “Mom?” “Yes?” “Nothing.” “What is it, baby?” “Well it’s just that wouldn’t it be great if mattresses had spaces for your arm, so that when you rolled on to your side, you could fit just right?” “That would be nice.” “And good for your back, probably, because it would let your spine be straight, which I know is important.” “That is important.” “Also, it would make snuggling easier… And making snuggling easier is important.” “Very.” Here, you can use this bin, or the sink, whichever. I’m so kloying and keen to make everyone’s lives better by befriending deaf centenarians and lonely billionaires and dragging them off on eccentric heart-twanging dead-father-related quests that Amelie from that kooky French movie Amelie would be out-cloyed and out-eccentriced at every turn & would have to throw herself out of my window wearing a birdseed dress which is an invention of mine for suicides by defenestration as the birdseed would attract birds who would carry the person aloft & thus prevent their self-destruction. Okay maybe when the birdseed was gone then the person would plummet, but I don’t think that far about any of my kooky schemes, magical children who could never possibly exist don’t do that. My brain is just naturally like Pixar HD. I’ll invent an invisibility suit that has a camera on my back that takes video of everything behind me and plays it onto a plasma screen that I’ll wear on my front, which will cover everything but my face. It’ll look like I’m not there at all. You may be wondering how I got to be like I am. Well, there’s a long line of cutesypie narrators in my family. My grandfather, frinstance. He’s tweer than me. Is that a word? It is now. He explained How I Met Your Grandmother like this: I had so much to ask her, “Do you lie on your stomach and look for things under the ice? Do you like plays? Do you like it when you can hear something before you can see it?... in the middle of my youth, in the middle of Europe, in between our two villages, on the verge of losing everything, I bumped into something and was knocked to the ground… at first I thought I’d walked into a tree, but then the tree became a person… I would like to explain that I am depressed about my father but as I’m in this novel I don’t call it that, I say I’m wearing heavy boots. I would also like to say that what with all this smiling through tears, the grandma, the grandfather, the old guy who can hear again, the mom who is probably schmoozing with some guy in the next room, the sad quest to find the Blacks of New York, AND 9/11 AND let's throw Hitler into the mix, you don’t have to look any further for a dictionary definition of emotional blackmail.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matt Holloway

    Extremely Precocious and Incredibly Irritating

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Today while tutoring, I've met with one student right at 1 and another at 4. In between those times, I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Perhaps that was not the smartest thing to do... Sometimes I find the book so funny that I laugh out loud. Which is fine if I had a quiet laugh, but I don't. And I tutor in a common meeting space which is a center room with offices surrounding it. Clearly, everyone in the office knew I was getting paid to laugh at what I was reading. I felt bad; if I was Today while tutoring, I've met with one student right at 1 and another at 4. In between those times, I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Perhaps that was not the smartest thing to do... Sometimes I find the book so funny that I laugh out loud. Which is fine if I had a quiet laugh, but I don't. And I tutor in a common meeting space which is a center room with offices surrounding it. Clearly, everyone in the office knew I was getting paid to laugh at what I was reading. I felt bad; if I was working, I wouldn't want to hear someone who was getting paid to read laughing. In my defense, at least everyone could see that writing matters to me and I appreciate quality literature, which further proves my already-established qualifications as a tutor. But then I got to the climax of the book, and I was moved by how the climax was written because it felt so "real" to me, because it captured how I feel and think (if those things could be replicated in language other than poetry), and I loved the characters as I love my families, and I loved the twist in the plot and how it came together in a way I didn't think it would come together because I was being skeptical and I thought it would be more trite, so I'm reading in the middle of this common room but I wouldn't call it reading as much as I would call it immersing myself into the novel when I start crying. Once the tears got in the way of my reading, I looked away from the page to wipe them, and realized I wasn't at home. I was in the Student-Athletics Department. I was tutoring. I had to pull my shit together. What I love is that a book could do that to me. That it could inspire me--to write, to live, to not be afraid, to not be embarrassed when I bawl at work. I love this book so much I'm going to buy a copy of it. I would marry it if I wasn't married to FD. I want to put Kiedrowski's frosting on it and eat it. I love the multi-genre-ness of it. It's brave and out-there and absolutely gorgeous. I still have one chapter left. Once I started crying, I thought maybe I should wait until I was home to finish it--just in case I need to sob for a couple of minutes or hours. It's moments like these that make me happy to be a reader, and even more so a writer... ~ It's almost 9 p.m., and I finished the book. I didn't cry. I didn't sob. I just finished it while BBQ-ing tonight's dinner (Chicken, roasted potatoes, and broccoli), ate dinner while watching the newest Deadliest Catch, cleaned-up, and talked to Pops. What's funny is, though, all the while I was doing this business, I was thinking about this book. And I have a feeling I'm going to think about this book for a long while. Like when I see a great film that moves me, it sticks with me, such as Dancer in the Dark. And when I read something so good, like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I believe in God more than any other time in my life. Because without God how could such a great book come into existence? Or such a great author who is able to write such a great book? And then such a great mind? And the food such a great mind eats? And the air such a great mind breathes? (You probably can see where this is going.) I can't review this book like other books. Mostly because I'm too emotional right now. But I can say if you read this blog, you should this book, if you haven't already. And before I give my HK rating, a fellow McGuire/Facebook buddy said about Foer's book, "it's seriously chronic. i already bought Everything is Illuminated." Chronic, people! Dr. Dre and Snoop would be up on this shit! C'mon! For the first time ever and maybe only time ever...5 Hello Kittys.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lawyer

    Extremely Loud and Incredbily Close: Jonathan Foer's novel of love, loss, and memory There are events that leave an indelible stamp on us for a great portion of our lives. This happens from generation to generation. Ask those living at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor where they were and what they were doing, they will be able to tell you the answer. Similarly, ask me where I was when I heard John F. Kennedy was shot, I can tell you. Ask what I was doing when the attacks of 9/11 occurred, I c Extremely Loud and Incredbily Close: Jonathan Foer's novel of love, loss, and memory There are events that leave an indelible stamp on us for a great portion of our lives. This happens from generation to generation. Ask those living at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor where they were and what they were doing, they will be able to tell you the answer. Similarly, ask me where I was when I heard John F. Kennedy was shot, I can tell you. Ask what I was doing when the attacks of 9/11 occurred, I can tell you. I had arrived at work at the District Attorney's Office. My chief side kick with whom I was working prep for a trial, ran into the grand jury room and said turn on the television. I did. What I saw was something I could not accept. Jonathan Foer goes far past the point of remembrance. Foer drops you into the shoes of 8 year old Oskar Schell. For him, 9/11 is not simply an event which he will remember for its historical significance. It is an event he lives daily because he lost his father that day. And the event is brought home to him, for he has a cell phone with his father's messages sent from the twin towers that day. This is a secret he keeps from his mother, for he wants to protect her from the pain of those messages. It is an incredible burden for a child to bear. Oskar is left with a gamut of guilt and fears, resulting in a state of vicarious traumatic response to his father's death. His grief is all the more palpable because he is extremely gifted and incredibly cursed with an intelligence far more gifted than children his age. Oskar shared a bond with his father, who fostered that intelligence, by devoting great attention on his son, gently lulling him to sleep at nights by reading him the New York Times and circling the errors they found in red ink. His father challenged Oskar's intelligence by setting up questions for Oskar to solve, leaving clues amounting to a trail of breadcrumbs leading him to a solution of the problems he designed for him. Or did he? Did his father actually do this? Or is this something which Oskar has perceived in his mind alone? The action of this novel occurs a year after the fall of the Towers. Oskar is still dealing with the traumatization of his father's loss. In an effort to keep the memory of his father close, Oskar frequently hides in his father's closet where the scent of his father's shaving still lingers in his mind, if only in his mind. A bundle of memories and his fears cripple Oskar in his dealings with others, especially his schoolmates, whom are not affected by the fall of the Towers as Oskar is. Nor does Oskar perceive his mother to be as deeply affected by the loss of his father. She has a new friend, Ron, who becomes a frequent visitor to the apartment. Oskar hears their laughter in the living room, as he hides in his father's closet. At one point, typical of a child, he tells his mother he wishes it had been her who died that day. It is something a child would say, intentionally hurting the remaining parent, then immediately struck with the hurt he inflicted on his mother whom he loved without question. There are strong clues that while Oskar is undoubtedly a prodigy of intelligence far beyond his years, that Oskar just might suffer from more than childhood fears. Is it that Oskar is afflicted by Asperger's Syndrome? A look into the Diagnostic Services Manual--I believe we're in the fifth edition of that psychological cookbook, now, reveals that this is a distinct possibility. Oskar is enveloped in a net of pattern and design, a characteristic shared by children with this diagnosis. He is awkward in his social interactions. Nor does he seem to grasp the results of his actions in social settings. Play on words which Oskar finds hilarious are lost and misunderstood by those around him. Oskar's behavior in filling daybooks with events that have happened to him, including other tragic events occurring before and after 9/11 take on a ritualistic quality, echoing some of the characteristics shared by those diagnosed with Asperger's, which is considered a sub diagnosis of autism. It is a matter of degree, not an exclusion from that diagnosis. That Oskar is unaware of the consequences of his behavior on his teacher and his fellow students is clear. In graphic detail, he explains the results of the bombing of Hiroshima, sharing a video interview with a survivor of the first use of an atomic bomb against a civilian population. That Osckar's last name is Schell is a clever device used to great benefit by Foer. For Oskar is a veritable Chambered Nautilus consisting of impenetrable chambers of secrets revealed only by gently bisecting the shell of a nautilus. Oskar's mother carries her son to be counseled by Doctor Fein, who is anything but fine in his ability to reach Oskar and release him from all the fears held within him, brought about from his father's death. It is only through Oskar's discovery of one last mystery he believes was left him by his father to solve, that Oskar begins to live outside himself and become engaged with people outside his immediate family that just might allow him to move forward from the prison of the loss of his father. Quite by accident, Oskar spies a blue vase on the top shelf of his father's closet. Stacking his works of Shakespeare in his father's closet, Oskar stretches to reach the vase, only to tip it off the shelf, shattering it on the floor of the closet. It contains a key, with an envelope. Written on the envelope is the word "Black" written in red ink. Oskar determines that the answer to his father's last mystery is the key and someone named Black. Although the number of locks in New York City is mind shattering, Oskar, a child of the internet, decides to track down all the Blacks in New York City in an effort to find the secret of what the key opens. It is this journey, if anything, that will allow Oskar to move beyond the death of his father and live his own life. Foer, in a display of brilliance, introduces us to Oskar's grandmother and the grandfather, Oskar never knew. Thomas Schell, for whom Oskar's father was named, also is trapped within the memories of another terrible incident in Human history, the firebombing of Dresden. The elder Thomas, although once capable of speech, can no longer speak a word, but communicates by writing in blank day books. He disappeared before the birth of Oskar's father. We learn of the elder Thomas's history through his letters to his unborn child and through his life with Oskar's grandmother, who lives in an apartment building across the street from Oskar. Oskar and his grandmother communicate by walkie talkies at all times of the day and night. It is through the writings of the elder Thomas Schell that we experience first hand the horror of living through one of the great acts of inhumanity against man--the fire bombing of Dresden during World War II by the Royal Airforce and the United States 8th Airforce from February 13-15th, 1945. Those events leave Thomas Schell a man forever changed. The beauty of Foer's novel is the answer he provides in the resolution of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. We recover from the tragedies of our lives through the bonds we share with others. This is the ultimate beauty of life. While some critics, and some readers, find Foer's novel, manipulative and cloyingly sweet, I find it an affirmation of life. To paraphrase Faulkner's Nobel Acceptance Speech, it is through reaching out to others that not only are we able to endure, it is the way we prevail. This is a solid 6 Stars literary masterpiece. If it makes you cry, take joy for the fact Foer reminds us we are human, not only capable of acts of inhumanity, but also capable of acts of great love and forgiveness.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    I read the first chapter and stopped. I am pissed off. I have rarely felt so manipulated as a reader in my life, and I think the manipulation is more about the way it is written than what it is written about, although that is, in itself, fairly manipulative. If this is how Foer usually writes, I want no part of him or his work. Still, if this was a short story and I reached the point where the Dad is about to talk to his son before the towers collapse, I would be excited by the cleverness of the I read the first chapter and stopped. I am pissed off. I have rarely felt so manipulated as a reader in my life, and I think the manipulation is more about the way it is written than what it is written about, although that is, in itself, fairly manipulative. If this is how Foer usually writes, I want no part of him or his work. Still, if this was a short story and I reached the point where the Dad is about to talk to his son before the towers collapse, I would be excited by the cleverness of the moment, would look forward to the conversation, and be pleased in anticipation of the genuine anguish that must be coming. But it's not a short story. It's the first chapter in what is a pretty long book, and I imagine all manner of excruciating crapness is to come. Couple that with a first person narrative in the voice of a "precocious" kid -- so precocious, in fact, that he sounds like a thirty-something man trapped in a kid's body rather than a genuinely precocious kid (I often suspect, when these impossibly precocious characters appear, that the author wants to write as a child but realizes he isn't good enough, so he makes them precocious so he can just write as themselves at their least disciplined and pretend it is a child) -- and I want to tear my eyeballs out after only twenty some-odd pages. Even worse, I didn't know this was about the WTC attack until I got this to the cash register. I just saw it on sale, knew it had good buzz, liked the cover and thought, "What the hell?!" I need to reexamine my impulse buying, apparently, because I would not have bought this book if I'd known what it was about before I did. I think, too, that if I keep reading this book it is going to be lucky to get one star, so it's probably best to leave it where it is for now: on my to-read shelf, buried under that copy of Shogun that's been there for a decade.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    On top of the already devastating wreckage left from the September eleventh attacks, Foer describes a bittersweet form of intergenerational pain. (It eventually became an unpopular albeit Oscar-nominated film [which days later I watched & was disappointed with]) this is a huge deviation from his true masterwork (for I suppose that one is more universally great and, unlike this one, less personally divisive:) Everything Is Illuminated. It is so radically different and almost as complex and pe On top of the already devastating wreckage left from the September eleventh attacks, Foer describes a bittersweet form of intergenerational pain. (It eventually became an unpopular albeit Oscar-nominated film [which days later I watched & was disappointed with]) this is a huge deviation from his true masterwork (for I suppose that one is more universally great and, unlike this one, less personally divisive:) Everything Is Illuminated. It is so radically different and almost as complex and perfect as his first work. (Speaking of which, where & when will we see Foer's 3rd!?) Radical because in this one the reader flips through pages in a suspect fervor to navigate a, lets say it, mixed media novel. Will it succeed? The infinitely creative, but mega precious child's voice is filled with its share of Truth and Whimsy. In this fictional world, suddenly everyone is unrude and all denizens of New York City are complex in a positive way. (...though there is a reason.) Oscar Schell, perhaps the biggest problem I see in the novel (The! Protagonist!), truly reflects a New York City post 9-11 that's probably all too sure of itself for its own good. Because it has to be.

  12. 4 out of 5

    emma

    my heart is very full. review to come / 5 stars ------------ i'm so happy to be rereading this

  13. 4 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    An Abuse of Childhood Traumatic tragedy makes good newspaper copy, especially when it involves children. The combination of horror and sentiment seems irresistible. But does it really serve for good fiction? I have my doubts, at least in the case of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I can’t be entirely certain because, as with so much in my advanced age, the book drags up so many childhood memories from my own sub-conscious that I’m wary of my own judgment. My psychological connection with Foer An Abuse of Childhood Traumatic tragedy makes good newspaper copy, especially when it involves children. The combination of horror and sentiment seems irresistible. But does it really serve for good fiction? I have my doubts, at least in the case of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I can’t be entirely certain because, as with so much in my advanced age, the book drags up so many childhood memories from my own sub-conscious that I’m wary of my own judgment. My psychological connection with Foer’s book is entirely coincidental but personally significant. My name is Black, a family name which gives the book its dramatic trajectory. I was born in New York City and my family members could have been on the fictional list of several hundred Blacks from the telephone directory sought out by Oskar (my grandson’s name, with a ‘k’), the young protagonist, who wants to know how his father perished on 9/11. My grandmother is buried in Calvary Cemetery which is, I think, where Oskar’s father is buried. Secondly, at the age of nine, I too like Oskar experienced the trauma of an air disaster when a military bomber crashed into the house next door to my suburban home, killing the three crew members in front of me.* This was in 1956 (the plane was similar to that mentioned by Foer as crashing into the Empire State Building In 1945). None of this history occurred to me until I was halfway through the book, suggesting perhaps that the historical facts might be more tightly bound with their emotional residue than I had ever realized. The line “Parents are always more knowledgeable than their children, and children are always smarter than their parents,” stopped me short. After the crash I recall feeling very distinctly that I knew much more about it than the adults did despite their maturity. I certainly didn’t believe their vacuous assurances that we were safe. I was the expert on the matter Not only did I witness the crash, including the pilot’s waving me off to take cover as the plane spun down, but I also presumed to understand - or at least feel - much more than my patents how dangerous it was to be alive (it was indeed very loud and very close). There had been three other similar incidents during the previous year; and one only a few months later that I witnessed from some distance. I didn’t have the vocabulary or the argumentative ability to express the situation but I knew with certainty that this was not an intelligent place to call home. The nearby Air Force facility was a hive of Cold War pilot training. The aircraft were all WWII bombers and transports. And the crews were part time reservists. So not perhaps the most experienced flyers in the service, in equipment long past its retirement date - what could go wrong? We lived under the approach path for the main runway. I was acutely aware of the Doppler sound of every plane in the sky and literally held my breath until those I knew were landing passed overhead. The weekends were worst, when there was a continuous stream of touch and go landings for the Flying Boxcars, vehicles as antiquated as their name suggested, well into the night. Like Oskar I can remember that “I needed all of my concentration for being brave.” Particularly since no one else in the house took the situation seriously. I did not succeed. My fear was as intense as Oskar’s as he stood on the observation deck of the Empire State Building “the whole time... imagining a plane coming at the building, just below us. I didn't want to, but I couldn't stop.” And just like Oskar I felt myself “an obvious potential target” for many months, even years, after. At some point the fear attenuated (or was sufficiently repressed) to allow a reasonably normal life. And within several years the base was closed for safety reasons (someone was listening even if it wasn’t my parents). But the psychic effects lingered, consciously as a sort of vague resentment for the imposition of unrecognized suffering; and, I’m sure, unconsciously in a variety of minor neuroses. But I find myself even more than six decades later resonating with a comment by one of Foer’s other characters: “The end of suffering does not justify the suffering, and so there is no end to suffering.” And that, I suppose, is the rationale for ‘trauma fiction’. The event itself is news. The cause of the event is documentary rapportage. The consequences of the event are where fiction is necessary. Strict rationality succumbs to emotional necessity. There is no cause and effect only complex interactions of unresolved suffering. This arises from the event itself, and from all the other tragic events that persist in memory and physical conditions. So it is proper that Foer connects 9/11 to Dresden and Hiroshima and the Holocaust as well as to the ‘routine’ accidental and natural deaths we all experience. There is an ecology of tragedy which links them. And I think it’s appropriate to consider the aftermath of 9/11 in terms of what is an irrational and essentially senseless search for the precise nature of a death which can’t even be documented. Even Oskar knows that “The more I found, the less I understood” about his father when he was alive. But he feels compelled to continue the task. Death gives us a reason for searching, if for nothing else for its meaning. Not having something to search for is worse than death. Death in its own way provides hope. If I read Foer correctly, this is his theme, and a rather interesting one. What I am less sure about is the use of a child’s perspective. Oskar, in addition to his trauma, is somewhat autistic. This gives him an aura of vulnerability. But he is also highly articulate and charming, traits which carry the narrative along with considerable wit and even humor. The problem is that the two characters are contradictory even if Foer tries to smooth over the joins. Oskar moves in and out of these two personas, even jumping into a third occasionally as a juvenile sage, who advises the various failing adults. This is jarring and doesn’t contribute to the narrative. This choice of an immature protagonist is, I think, a mistake. It does create a story that sells but not a believable character. At least I couldn’t have possibly done what Oskar does and says at the age of nine. He seems a sort of portmanteau child/adult. Children, no matter how clever they are, do not think and act like Oskar (like planning an carrying out an exhumation!). Often he’s an adult in a child’s body, doing therapeutic work which can only be engaged in after substantially more experience. Children are hopeful by instinct; they are instinctive searchers. But they don’t philosophise about it. It is adults who have to be reminded that searching is the essence of living. Oskar is, in short, a fantasy not a fictional character, an abuse of childhood, but an instructive one. * I had been standing approximately 15 feet behind where the two fireman are in upper right of the photo when the plane struck, close enough to see the faces of the men in the cockpit.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christina White

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was horrible. The writing was horrible. The book jumped around and around and was so hard to follow. It was like reading something written by someone who was half squirrel and half crack head. Instead of creating colorful and deep characters using words, he used punctuation. The grandfather spoke using an abundance of useless commas, the grandmother used lots of periods and Mr. Black spoke in sentences using only exclamation points. I was thankful no spoke by asking only questions. If I wou This was horrible. The writing was horrible. The book jumped around and around and was so hard to follow. It was like reading something written by someone who was half squirrel and half crack head. Instead of creating colorful and deep characters using words, he used punctuation. The grandfather spoke using an abundance of useless commas, the grandmother used lots of periods and Mr. Black spoke in sentences using only exclamation points. I was thankful no spoke by asking only questions. If I would have seen a page full of question marks I think I might have thrown the book across the room! I found Oskar to be the only unique and real character in the book, but after awhile he even started to annoy me. His little quirks were too over the top, like the author was trying to compensate and distract the reader from the nonexistent plot. A boy loses his father and finds a key in an envelope with the name "Black" on it. We go through pages and pages of meeting lots of people with the name "Black" only to find out the key had nothing to do with his dad in the first place. He has weird grandparents who like to write him letters about their sex life and who really didn't add anything to the plot of the story that I could tell. Then he digs up his father's empty coffin and fills it with letters, the end. (Seriously?????) I found the subject matter heart breaking, and did tear up at times, but it's hard not to tear up when anyone talks about that horrible day. I hated the pictures the most. The book had pages of meaningless pictures. But one picture stood out from the rest and made me cringe. He filled over a dozen pages with pictures of someone's loved one falling to their death from one of the burning towers of 9/11. I am outraged by this! Horrible!!!!!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book gives me heavy boots. On the one hand, Foer writes an interesting story. An eight year-old boy Oskar, two years after his father’s death in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, embarks on a scavenger hunt, searching for clues to a key his father left behind, a key that he believes opens a mysterious lock somewhere in New York City. Oskar is precocious to say the least. I thought several times that he reminds me a bit of Holden Caulfield, albeit younger and somewhat less pess This book gives me heavy boots. On the one hand, Foer writes an interesting story. An eight year-old boy Oskar, two years after his father’s death in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, embarks on a scavenger hunt, searching for clues to a key his father left behind, a key that he believes opens a mysterious lock somewhere in New York City. Oskar is precocious to say the least. I thought several times that he reminds me a bit of Holden Caulfield, albeit younger and somewhat less pessimistic. Intertwined with Oskar’s account are the stories of his grandparents who are survivors of the bombings of Dresden, Germany during World War II. The grandparents relate their own experiences of loss and grief through letters and journal entries that shed light on the national tragedy they lived through two generations earlier. One of the problems I have with this book (i.e. the other hand) is that Foer’s heavy use of typographical gimmicks is distracting and unnecessary. Some of Oskar’s discoveries during his scavenger hunt occur somewhat too conveniently. And are we really supposed to feel bad for Oskar’s grandfather for being so “broken” over losing the love of his life? Because I don’t. It’s been 58 years, guy—get over it. You’re not tragic and pitiable, you’re a fucking loser for leaving your family. And if there’s one thing I can’t wrap my head around, it’s the timing surrounding the disappearance of Oskar’s friend Mr. Black. Although it doesn’t weigh heavily on the plot of the novel, small details like this bother me. On p. 285, the first sentence reads, “The day after the renter and I dug up Dad’s grave, I went to Mr. Black’s apartment.” We know that when Oskar does go to Mr. Black’s apartment, he retrieves a biograph card from Mr. Black’s index. We also know that he is wearing this biograph card on his person during his meeting with William Black (a different Black) later that day (p. 295). How, then, is it possible that directly before the grave digging operation, Oskar is able to relate to his grandfather (the “renter”) the details of what he learned in his meeting with William Black (p. 302) if the grave digging operation itself is supposed to have happened the day before retrieving the biograph card?? If someone could explain that last part for me, I’d greatly appreciate it. In the meantime, here’s an overall timeline I made to help myself better understand the interweaving plot lines: 1921 – letter written by prisoner of Turkish labor camp 1936 – prisoner’s letter received by Oskar’s grandmother (who must have been about 6 years old and therefore born around 1930) 1943 – after spending 7 years collecting letters for handwriting samples, Oskar’s grandmother collects a letter from Thomas Schell who is seeing her sister 1945 – Dresden firebombings (indisputable), Anna dies 1950 – Oskar’s grandmother (~20 years old) moves to USA and meets a mute Thomas Schell; this date is based on the grandmother’s declaration that “7 years had passed” which I took to assume since obtaining Thomas’s handwriting sample in 1943, as it’s the only thing that makes sense to me. 1963 – Thomas Schell leaves Oskar’s grandmother 1964 – Oskar’s father is born 1995 – Oskar is born 2001 – Oskar’s father dies (indisputable), Thomas Schell returns 2003 – present day (Oskar discovers key, learns mystery of its origin, digs up his father’s grave, and Oskar’s grandparents move to the airport).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    I hate to keep pointing out to everyone that I listened to the audio version of this or that book, as it gets repetitive after awhile, and for the most part, it is usually irrelevant. In this case, though, it seems to have made a difference. When I finished Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, I went online to read some reviews. I was surprised by what I read. It seemed that just about everyone who gave their opinion on this book, whether positive or negative, commented on Foer's "experimental" I hate to keep pointing out to everyone that I listened to the audio version of this or that book, as it gets repetitive after awhile, and for the most part, it is usually irrelevant. In this case, though, it seems to have made a difference. When I finished Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, I went online to read some reviews. I was surprised by what I read. It seemed that just about everyone who gave their opinion on this book, whether positive or negative, commented on Foer's "experimental" writing style. Apparently, Foer would at times not use proper punctuation, or would clump words on top of each other so that they appeared to look like scribbles, or would insert photographs, or even leave several pages blank. I hate to look like I'm trying to be cute by using the phrase which appeared so often in the book, but my reaction to this was exactly that: What the.... ? There is no evidence of any of these experimental writing tactics in the audio version whatsoever. I mean, there is mention of a memoir having nothing but blank pages, but that is part of the story itself... there was no sense of actual blank pages within Foer's book. There was no sense of words piling up on each other, either. And, clearly, there were no pictures. I'm not sure how I would have felt about the book with all of the above thrown in. Some seemed to have found it distracting, and perhaps I'd have felt the same. Without them, though, you are left with nothing but the story itself, pure and uncluttered, and which I found to be beautifully written. The narration by the various actors was also superbly done. Sometimes I get annoyed by the fact that my current situation limits me to audiobooks, as I miss having a real book in my hand and reading the words on a page in my own voice with my own interpretation. And then I come across a book like this one, and I am glad. Some books, it seems, are even better read aloud.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    Nine year old Oskar Schell finds a key among his dead father's things and embarks on a quest to find the lock it fits. Will Oskar Schell's quest give him the answers he's looking for? Quite some time ago, I watched a fragment of the movie based on this book on a rainy day before deciding I wanted to read the book. Now that I've read it, I'm not sure it was the right choice. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the story of Oskar Schell, a nine year old possible genius with issues whose father di Nine year old Oskar Schell finds a key among his dead father's things and embarks on a quest to find the lock it fits. Will Oskar Schell's quest give him the answers he's looking for? Quite some time ago, I watched a fragment of the movie based on this book on a rainy day before deciding I wanted to read the book. Now that I've read it, I'm not sure it was the right choice. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the story of Oskar Schell, a nine year old possible genius with issues whose father died in the World Trade Center collapse. After discovering a mysterious key, he wanders New York's five boroughs, meeting people and drawing closer to the end of his quest. I loved the Oskar Schell character, a smart boy who has trouble fitting in, and I loved the idea of a boy on quest. Oskar's relationship with his deceased father was very well done, as was his anger with his mother. However, I found the book to be on the gimmicky side with all the photographs and typographical razzmatazz. Also, I found the elder Thomas Schell to be an unsympathetic character. He ran out on his family. Why is Foer so bent on making us feel sorry for him? As much as I loved the idea of a nine year old attempting to solve the mysteries behind his father's death, I found the execution far=fetched, but not as far-fetched as the ending. The ending denied the book an entire star for me. Even so, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was not without its charm. It was an engaging read and had some poignant moments. Three out of five stars.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Holley

    Maybe it goes without saying that we write differently in letters than we do in email or text. Something about putting pen to paper makes a handwritten letter more intimate and less imposing than electronic media. We take off the tin-foil hat. Our mistakes are not made invisible by a backspace key, but crossed out with our own hand. We reveal ourselves. And letters to people we love are that much more intimate and revealing, even sentimental. We create something, a product, that you can hold in Maybe it goes without saying that we write differently in letters than we do in email or text. Something about putting pen to paper makes a handwritten letter more intimate and less imposing than electronic media. We take off the tin-foil hat. Our mistakes are not made invisible by a backspace key, but crossed out with our own hand. We reveal ourselves. And letters to people we love are that much more intimate and revealing, even sentimental. We create something, a product, that you can hold in your hand, and then send it off, like a little piece of ourselves. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is Jonathan Safran Foer’s love letter to New York City. I’ve seen some readers complain that its sentimentality is manipulative, and even though I can imagine reading the book that way, I can’t understand it. I think this book is one of the most beautiful explorations of love, grief, and humanity that I’ve ever experienced. It’s been years since I last read it, and I wanted to read it again before reviewing, but I’m not really at an emotional place where I could take it right now. What is love without death? And sometimes both are too harsh to look in the face. I have to make a nothing place for them. But I’ve had this review percolating in my brain, and I felt like I needed to share it, even though it’s only impressions. Traditional wedding vows summarize pretty economically that classic feeling of being in love. I will love you in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, till death do us part. It’s that feeling of “I loved you before I knew you, and I will love you after we’re dust.” Foer does something similar here. He’s saying to the City, “I loved you as a child. I love you as an old man, as an old woman. I loved you when I only had a key to your secrets, but didn’t know what door it belonged to. I love you in the health of family and in the sickness of grief.” And somehow, for right or wrong, it is more meaningful to be reminded of love when we are at our most worthless and broken. This love letter takes place just after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, and it gives me the feeling of Foer sewing up the wounds of the city. I lived in New York a couple of years before the September 11th attack, and I hated the city. When the attacks happened, I lived in one of the religiously fanatical far-away places where a lot of people felt, secretly or openly, that New York deserved to have a symbol of its decadence cut down. I lived in Oregon. People would say that “we” brought this upon ourselves, but, despite my aversion to New York City, that always offended me. New York is not “we” to anyone in Oregon. “We” is Rainie Falls and Mount Pisgah and Voodoo Doughnuts and Dutch Bros and Rice Hill. “We” is the Caveman statue and Powell’s and the stupid Enchanted Forest. The World Trade Center is just as foreign to “us” as Afghanistan or Nicaragua, Dresden or Hiroshima. Not only do I not believe that anyone, English speaking or not, brings that kind of devastation upon themselves, I also do not believe that it is “our” right to speak to the justice of that kind of event. I love where I live, and I feel that same kind of love and care in Foer talking about where he lives. I think it is beautiful. I think that it is not possible for a place that could be so beloved, no matter how much I dislike it myself, to have deserved bombing. I would say the same about Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Dresden, and Hiroshima. On a lighter and more bitchy note, Nicole Krauss is married to Foer, and her book The History of Love is very, very similar to Extremely Loud. I think that if you’ve read one of those, you can’t really like the other, unfortunately. They are both, to some extent, about the injustices of growing up, but Krauss takes the tone of overcoming adversity, where I think Foer takes the tone of reconciliation and healing. Maybe they both have all of those elements. I’m one thumb up, one thumb down on History of Love, but words cannot tell you how much I love Extremely Loud. Some of the similarities are in the family phrasings, some are in the plots. You can see how they are very different writers who suffer from the disadvantage of living in the same house with another great writer. It’s stressful. Extremely Loud is American folklore. It is regional, but can’t be held responsible for it. Not that regionalism is necessarily a turn-off, but we want to read about ourselves. Cultures that are familiar but foreign can be suspicious. At the same time, this story does bring me into the culture that was devastated by 9/11. I was not the target of the 9/11 attacks, just like Oskar, the protagonist of this book, was not. But also, we both were. We both are Americans, despite our foreignness. It is one of those muddles that political boundaries make out of culture. We are foreigners and family at the same time. It’s confusing and figurative and sentimental. In fact, all of this, everything in this book, is more figurative and sentimental than many readers care for, but what do you expect from a love letter?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Greta

    Extremely beautiful and incredibly lachrymose.

  20. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is extremely sad and incredibly stylish. For a thin plot, Foer was able to extend it by shifting narratives, delightful monologues, empty pages, pages with one liners, pages with black and white pictures, pages with colored pictures, pages with scribbled names, pages that look like a manuscript with editor's proofreading symbols and by several back stories (Hiroshima bombing, Dresden bombing, etc). That’s a delicate style that I think only gifted writers can p Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is extremely sad and incredibly stylish. For a thin plot, Foer was able to extend it by shifting narratives, delightful monologues, empty pages, pages with one liners, pages with black and white pictures, pages with colored pictures, pages with scribbled names, pages that look like a manuscript with editor's proofreading symbols and by several back stories (Hiroshima bombing, Dresden bombing, etc). That’s a delicate style that I think only gifted writers can pull away with. The story is simple: about a boy whose father died in 9/11 and a couple of years after, he found a mysterious key under a flower vase inside his father's dresser. The search led him to find out more stories about his father. The search led him to the answers to his questions, meet many interesting people, find a way to heal his wounds and move on with his life. The narrator is Oskar Schell, a 9-y/o son of the 9/11 victim. Oskar is intellectually curious, sensitive, pacifist, musically-inclined, earnest. I am not sure if that is really how an American 9-y/o thinks, feels and acts. When I was at that age, I had a classmate who died of drowning while she and her family were having a picnic aboard a boat on a Black Saturday. I got sad because that classmate of mine was close to me but I did not have those deep and mind-blowing thoughts that Foer made for Oskar. I also thought that his thinking is sometimes vague, too mature and not childish at all. There were times I thought that he was like Oskar Matzerath, the man-child (or the man who decided not to grow up) in Gunter Grass’ opus, The Thin Drum minus of course the glass-shattering shrieks. Instead, the Oskar in this novel cries in every opportunity and says “I love you” as his second language like a big star in an afternoon television series. When he cries and says that he loves you, that’s heart shattering and you’ll say that Foer is a genius and this book should have a movie. Yes, there is an on-going production of this and you will see the output on December 25, 2011 at your favorite U.S. theaters : Guaranteed to make you cry especially if you are a male and have a quirky relationship with your father or with your son. In my opinion, its melodrama borders between manipulative and sincere. In other words, it almost felt like it uses 9/11 to squirt tears from its readers and almost felt like it was just disrespectfully cashing out sympathy for the victims at the expense of the victims’ families and friends. However, I think that reading this in 2011 and not in 2005 when the book was first published is better because many of the families and friends of those who perished have already moved on with their lives. That despite the pain and much more the good memories that their loved ones left behind with them. Those will never ever go away. Guaranteed to blow you away especially if you are used to reading linear narrative and straightforward and precise storytelling. I thought that the back stories were all pieces of thoughts that the boy or the father had so I just read them on strides. I did not know that those will be part of the grand scheme in the end. These little things could catch you unguarded and I thought that it was cleverly done: to turn a simple predictable a bit hallow story into an unbelievably and surprisingly memorable read. Unlike the funky style of Jennifer Egan in A Visit From a Goon Squad or the loaded style of Samantha Sotto’s Before Ever After, Foer’s alternating milieus and time periods are not confusing at all and they seem appropriate given the impact, sadness and confusion brought about by 9/11. My favorite part is when the father said in the telephone: "Are you there? Are you there?" instead of saying "Is anyone there? Is anyone there?" For me this means that the father was hoping that his son was there because that would give him peace of mind. A father always think of his child's life or safety first before his own. My first time to read a Foer and I am just blown away.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    One of the most beautifully written and impactful stories ive read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I finished this book this morning, determined to complete it before I did anything else today. I wanted it to just be over. I read the last 41 pages & then looked at the additional 15 unnumbered pages of pictures at the end, and now I sit here rather annoyed. I don't know how to communicate my disappointed sighs via text. [image error] I really wanted to love this book. It was given to me by a friend who loved it - someone whose opinion I trust. I didn't get around to reading it for a long ti I finished this book this morning, determined to complete it before I did anything else today. I wanted it to just be over. I read the last 41 pages & then looked at the additional 15 unnumbered pages of pictures at the end, and now I sit here rather annoyed. I don't know how to communicate my disappointed sighs via text. [image error] I really wanted to love this book. It was given to me by a friend who loved it - someone whose opinion I trust. I didn't get around to reading it for a long time though, and now that I have, it is my sad duty to report that I didn't like it at all. This should have been a moving story about grief, a little boy searching to find out why his father died, and learning to let him go. But it wasn't anything. There was no plot, no point, and I just didn't get it. There was exactly three sections of this book that made me feel something other than confusion and frustration. These three sections probably add up to about 10 pages, all together. And then one of them was a lie, so back to the confusion and frustration on that one. This book was so damn gimmicky. I guess a lot of people would call that "style" or "technique" or something, but to me, it was just "LOOK AT ME! I'M DIFFERENT!" stage dressing that added nothing but irritation to the experience of reading this for me. I have a very low tolerance for gimmicks in books, and I feel that if an author is going to use anything at all other than words to tell his story, it had better fit and make sense, and add something. Nothing was added to the story or the experience for most of this stuff. Most of it was completely random - it literally could have been picked by the close your eyes and point method out of a table full of photos at an oddities shop. Or maybe this explains it: Apparently, these are the pictures that are in Oskar's "Stuff That Happened To Me" book. Please, tell me, how did a picture of two turtles mating happen to him? A photo of a man on the ground during or after a tennis match? Two early Homo Sapiens walking together? When was he an astronaut? Or any of these: "a shark attacking a girl, someone walking on a tightrope between the Twin Towers, that actress getting a blowjob from her normal boyfriend, a soldier getting his head cut off in Iraq, the place on the wall where a famous stolen painting used to hang". These things didn't happen to him, and I can't even see how they are even remotely related to him or anything he experienced - except perhaps in a symbolic or metaphorical way. But that doesn't fit. Oskar is extremely literal. He doesn't understand figures of speech, so I find it very difficult to think he'd have a scrapbook called "Stuff That Happened To Me" filled with symbolic or metaphorical pictures representing his feelings. If that's the case, why not just call it "Pictures Representing My Feelings"? Oskar annoyed the hell out of me from the very beginning, and I just could not bring myself to like or identify with him. I tried. I mean, he's a little boy who thinks about things in a specific and ordered way, who needs stability, and his father dying pulled the rug out from under him. I tried. I just couldn't. I couldn't like this kid who can't see that his mother is actually grieving for her husband but notices things like the subway lines in New York only being above ground in "poor neighborhoods". I couldn't like this fucking selfish kid who tells his mother that he wishes he had a choice which parent died, who can't comprehend his mother or his grandmother having a life outside of him, who actually thinks things like "Why is she not waiting at the door? I'm the only thing that matters to her" about his grandmother. Oh, but Oskar is such a charmer, you know, when he asks random women if he can kiss them, and tells them they are "incredibly beautiful". No, he means it. INCREDIBLY. BEAUTIFUL. All of them. He's the creepy fucking old man who stands too close on a train... just trapped in a 9 year old body. And yet people just go with it. I know that Oskar's mom called around and told the people named Black that he'd be coming, but that wasn't until after he'd been around to a few, and still random people that he meets, all the people named Black that stalks tracks down on his investigation, they just go along with it, like it's not weird at all. Even if they were warned, I seriously doubt that every person would "play along". They act like they know that "heavy boots" means he's depressed rather than literally thinking that his shoes weigh a lot. They don't say "I don't kiss 9 year old boys" they say "It wouldn't be a good idea." Speaking of which... Nobody EVER says what they mean in this book. Oskar says inappropriately honest things because he's literal and a child and probably has Asperger's, but when it comes to important things to him - his father - he shuts down. Incommunicado. Which is a huge theme in this book. Nobody talks to each other. Except of course for the perfect father-son relationship that Thomas/Oskar have. Seriously, this was, I think for me, the most frustrating aspect of this book. It made me want to throw the damn thing across the room so many times. SO. MANY. TIMES. I hate, HATE, stupid people who suffer and cause other people to suffer needlessly because they are incapable of opening their fucking mouth, or getting a damn pen, or hiring a singing clown telegram, or a skywriter or communicating in SOME WAY with another person about their needs or fears or thoughts or... anything. Instead, these geniuses just close down, check out, and take ZERO responsibility for their own life, shirk EVERY decision and just refuse. Refuse what? Everything. Just fucking... GAH! Half of this story is about Oskar's Grandma and Grandpa, and the shit's so convoluted and goddamn stupid that at the end I seriously could not believe that paper was wasted on this. Ugh. You know, I was going to give you the Cliff's Notes version of the stupidity that is Oskar's Grandparents' relationship, but I actually can't bring myself to type it all out. So I'll just tell you that I literally hated reading about it, because they were both so stupid and I could not comprehend why they couldn't just TALK to each other. Oh, but Grandpa doesn't talk. He writes everything down. One sentence per page. He singlehandedly kept the paper industry in business for 40+ years. My overall impression of Grandma and Grandpa's lives: What a waste. Anyway... Like I said. I wanted to like this book. I remember 9/11 and I remember how heartbreaking it was. I remember being glued to the TV and feeling almost physically sick. So I thought this book would be moving and beautiful and heartbreaking. But instead it was just frustrating. It was all over the place, gimmicky, and overall pointless, since Oskar's investigation had nothing at all to do with his father in the end. What a waste.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    I picked this book up two days ago to read the first page (I personally think you can tell a lot about a book from the first page) and was hooked. I'm in the middle of another book, which is a good book, but the jarring nature of the prose reeled me in. The first chapter is called, "What the?" which is exactly what I was thinking. I was instantly reminded of another great book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, where you actually experience the book as well as read it. While I wo I picked this book up two days ago to read the first page (I personally think you can tell a lot about a book from the first page) and was hooked. I'm in the middle of another book, which is a good book, but the jarring nature of the prose reeled me in. The first chapter is called, "What the?" which is exactly what I was thinking. I was instantly reminded of another great book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, where you actually experience the book as well as read it. While I wouldn't want every book to be written like that, because it's a bit like riding a roller coaster in the dark with strobe lights, it sure is fun every once in a while. Jonathan Safran Foer, the author, writes the tale of a nine year old boy named Oskar Schell, whose father was in the World Trade Center when the planes flew into them on September 11th. I think its fair to say that the boy becomes extremely troubled after his father's death, but with the unconventional childhood he had, it didn't take much to push him over the edge. His father was an atheist and Oskar wasn't raised to believe in an afterlife or heaven or that people have spirits. When no body is recovered, his mother buries an empty coffin and she and Oskar have this conversation: "It's just an empty box." "It's more than an empty box." "Why would I want to spend eternity next to an empty box?" Mom said, "His spirit is there," and that made me really angry. I told her, "Dad didn't have a spirit! He had cells!" "His memory is there." "His memory is there," I said, pointing at my head. "Dad had a spirit," she said, like she was rewinding a bit in our conversation. I told her, "He had cells, and now they're on rooftops, and in the river, and in the lungs of millions of people around New York, who breathe him every time they speak!" The book also tells the story of Oskar's paternal grandparents. The narration changes when both tell their own story. When his grandmother writes, there are no paragraphs and no quotations marks. Lots of odd spacing and most sentences get their own line. She's kind of crazy herself which you know by how she reacts when watching Oskar in his school's play of Hamlet and her conversations with Oskar. Oskar's grandfather...well...that's when you really see crazy. The author uses the most license with him and parts of the book are downright bizarre. Like the eight pages with nothing on them. Or when he starts to write smaller and smaller so that two entire pages are just dark black scribbles because some many words are on top of themselves. It's more than just tricks on the page, however. The story is really about grief and how Oskar chooses to grieve for his father and how Oskar's grandparents grieved after losing much of what they loved when their city of Dresden was bombed in World War II. When Oskar finds a key in an envelope with the word "Black" written on it inside a vase in his parent's bedroom, he sets out to discover what it unlocks. He goes about this by finding every person with the last name of "Black" in the five boroughs of New York City and spends almost a year going out on the weekends to ask Aaron, Abel, Amber etc. if they know anything about the key. A few interesting characters and stories get told through this storyline, but the real beauty of this book is how it made me remember and react to the horror of 9/11 again. You kind of forget....with the War on Terror, and the Iraq War and all of the stories that have happened during the last six years how horrible it was to watch those burning buildings go down on live TV. The last 14 pages of the book are pictures Oskar got off of a Portuguese web site that had a picture of a man who had jumped from the building. He put them in reverse order and you see this body in the air going up. The wish of a nine year old boy. This book is exactly what its title says it is. Extremely and incredibly written. It's different, but I sure liked it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Perhaps I'm just stupid, but I don't get this book, nor am I really crazy about it. It's a little too hip for me, in the sense that I don't think anybody really gets what the hell Foer is trying to say, but because it's obscure everyone likes it. Or maybe I'm just looking too much into the book. But I found myself having to read and re-read pages over and over again to make sense of it all. It doesn't do it for me, but I might try to get through it one last time, mainly because I feel very guilty Perhaps I'm just stupid, but I don't get this book, nor am I really crazy about it. It's a little too hip for me, in the sense that I don't think anybody really gets what the hell Foer is trying to say, but because it's obscure everyone likes it. Or maybe I'm just looking too much into the book. But I found myself having to read and re-read pages over and over again to make sense of it all. It doesn't do it for me, but I might try to get through it one last time, mainly because I feel very guilty if I don't finish a book, despite how bad as I think it is.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Calista

    I really enjoyed this movie. It was well done and touching, so I picked up the book. It is a powerful story told, but I think this is an instance the movie is better than the book. I didn't like the narration of the grandmother and grandfather running throughout the book. I felt the point of view worthy of our time was o Oskar Schell. I wanted the other parts to hurry up and be over. It was strange and didn't seem to have that much import on the story really. I did like the book. There were some I really enjoyed this movie. It was well done and touching, so I picked up the book. It is a powerful story told, but I think this is an instance the movie is better than the book. I didn't like the narration of the grandmother and grandfather running throughout the book. I felt the point of view worthy of our time was o Oskar Schell. I wanted the other parts to hurry up and be over. It was strange and didn't seem to have that much import on the story really. I did like the book. There were some touching parts and there were some funny parts and there were uncomfortable parts. Oskar is 9 years old and he wants to kiss this 40 year old woman. I do like the idea of this little kid connecting all these different people with a last name of black. Many of them were very lonely and he was able to make them feel not so lonely. I like that idea. The destruction of the Twin towers is part of the plot in this novel. He goes into thinking what could have happened to those people and he discusses footage that the news did not show of people jumping out of the windows. It is fairly intense. Oskar lost his dad in the attack. It is a unique little story and I'm glad I read this. It took me a while to finish it, but I'm glad I did. I went back and forth on how many stars. I could give it 3 stars and I could give it 4 stars so I went with this is unique and not like much else out there, so I gave it 4 stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    unknown

    LOOK I WROTE A BOOK WITH PICTURES IN IT AND SOMETIMES PAGES OF NONSENSE. I GOT THE IDEA FROM DOUGLAS COUPLAND IN 1991. GIVE ME AN AWARD.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh

    According to E. Wilson 'No two persons ever read the same book.' I love an author that allows a story to just unfold; that leaves me to draw my own conclusions. I love that it wasn’t just about 9-11 but also war torn Dresden and Hiroshima. Well my spin is this is probably the most powerful anti-war book I’ve ever read. The stream of consciousness writing style is the perfect choice. It’s lyrical and appropriate, just go with it. It’s not depressing; in fact parts of it are really funny. Then aga According to E. Wilson 'No two persons ever read the same book.' I love an author that allows a story to just unfold; that leaves me to draw my own conclusions. I love that it wasn’t just about 9-11 but also war torn Dresden and Hiroshima. Well my spin is this is probably the most powerful anti-war book I’ve ever read. The stream of consciousness writing style is the perfect choice. It’s lyrical and appropriate, just go with it. It’s not depressing; in fact parts of it are really funny. Then again, I’d be lying if I didn’t warn you - it will punch you in the gut. Oskar is such a little charmer (particularly with the ladies), a heartbreaking combination of pure innocence & genius; a compulsive inventor gifted with that enviable ability to think outside the box. He dreams up everything from portable pockets and birdseed shirts to biodegradable cars & skyscrapers with roots; yet never imagines any kind of weapon, never fantasizes revenge. He loses the most wonderful father during 9-11 yet somehow remains himself. A survivor that emerges wounded but not shattered, perhaps by choosing to transfer all that bottled up love for his lost father to others. It’s not the perfect novel, what is? I’ll nit-pick, I got lost with the 1st person narrative switching - the grandparents were over-the-top bizarre. Trivial complaints, if it bugs you just skim over those parts, there’s plenty of magic. It’s strange but I finished this book feeling cautiously hopeful. I like to imagine 9-11 could have spawned an Oskar. A free-thinking genius bound & determined to invent a world without war – heavy boots and all. memorable quotes: "She laughed enough to migrate an entire flock of birds. That was how she said yes” “I knew him, Horatio; a jerk of infinite stupidity, a most excellent masturbator in the second-floor boys’ bathroom – I have proof.”

  28. 5 out of 5

    Violet wells

    There are quite a few novels that you either love or hate. Not so many that you can simultaneously both love AND hate. To admire there’s the high tide imaginative vitality of the writing; to irritate the relentless contrived cutesy-cutesy tugging at the heartstrings. EL&IC purports to be a novel about big bangs - 9/11, Hiroshima and Dresden - but you might say this novel is more about the consequences of over indulging feeling. There’s Oskar who misses his dad who dies on 9/11 and there’s his There are quite a few novels that you either love or hate. Not so many that you can simultaneously both love AND hate. To admire there’s the high tide imaginative vitality of the writing; to irritate the relentless contrived cutesy-cutesy tugging at the heartstrings. EL&IC purports to be a novel about big bangs - 9/11, Hiroshima and Dresden - but you might say this novel is more about the consequences of over indulging feeling. There’s Oskar who misses his dad who dies on 9/11 and there’s his grandfather who loses the love of his life in the bombing of Dresden and, melodramatically, refuses to speak from that day on. The Oskar narrative just about works; the grandfather narrative is simply annoying in its whimsy and pantomime absurdity. And as such provides no aesthetically invigorating connection between the two horror days of history. In fact Dresden, like Hiroshima, seems a gratuitous service station in the novel. It’s also a novel that has more sympathy for the male than the female. The practical tenacity of Oskar’s mother in the face of grief is given short shrift as is the case with the abandoned grandmother. It’s the males who get the best lines and make things happen in Foer’s world. Essentially it’s a fairy story. A bit like Benigni’s Life is Beautiful in its attempt to excavate a life affirming beauty from unspeakable horror. Also irritating is that it borrows riffs from Bellow’s Herzog and Grass’s the Tin Drum as well as shoplifting wholesale Amis’ created universe in Time’s Arrow where everything happens backwards. An entertaining read but not quite great literature. Foer is still very young though.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brian Yahn

    Oskar, a thoughtful kid full of quirks and handicaps, finds a key. So the journey he goes on to find its (and his own) place in the world should be inspiring at least. But although Oskar learns all sorts of interesting things everywhere he goes, he never really makes any progress. And similarly, neither does the story. Right from the start, the prose is sharp, and the characters stand out. The father particularly is just as likable as can be. But the story as a whole moves in too many directions Oskar, a thoughtful kid full of quirks and handicaps, finds a key. So the journey he goes on to find its (and his own) place in the world should be inspiring at least. But although Oskar learns all sorts of interesting things everywhere he goes, he never really makes any progress. And similarly, neither does the story. Right from the start, the prose is sharp, and the characters stand out. The father particularly is just as likable as can be. But the story as a whole moves in too many directions without ever really going anywhere. Combine that with the different perspectives, and it comes out as a scrambled mess. It feels like George RR Martin and Chuck Palahniuk teamed up to write this. It might be awesome, but it just doesn't work.

  30. 4 out of 5

    J

    Dear Kim, Thank you for making me read this, you book-pushing, carney-loving, skee ball fiend. You were right. I wish you lighter boots*, always. Dear Everyone Else, Let’s get this out of the way first: There are pictures. They’re intended to be clever and, at times, to clutch at your heart. It’s gimmicky. I don’t care. Granted, I read this at a time when I may have been more vulnerable to schmaltz. My mother had recently passed away. I was on a journey, searching for the parts of her life that had Dear Kim, Thank you for making me read this, you book-pushing, carney-loving, skee ball fiend. You were right. I wish you lighter boots*, always. Dear Everyone Else, Let’s get this out of the way first: There are pictures. They’re intended to be clever and, at times, to clutch at your heart. It’s gimmicky. I don’t care. Granted, I read this at a time when I may have been more vulnerable to schmaltz. My mother had recently passed away. I was on a journey, searching for the parts of her life that had been lost to me, filling in the blank pages of our relationship. Like Oskar, Jonathan Safran Foer’s nine-year old protagonist, searching the city for the lock to fit his father’s key. His father was lost on September 11th. I say lost because that’s what he was. Lost. Gone, missing, not found. Oskar is trying to make sense of his loss and, in the process, other things are found. The book is made up of letters from an absent father to the son he never knew, letters from a grandmother achingly desperate to be something to someone, and at the center is Oskar’s story. I mentioned his quest for the lock to fit his father’s key. Systematically, scientifically, he works to make his father’s key significant. He needs his father to have been something to someone. Necessary. While it irks me an entire page has been wasted on a picture of a tennis player, it also makes a very clear point to me: Words are important. A picture is not worth a thousand words. Not that picture, anyway. We need the exchange of words with one another; communication. Loquaciousness, even. We need to hear them, read them, write them on our skin, speak them with our mouths, our hands, our eyes, our mouths again. We need the words. Why didn’t he say goodbye? I gave myself a bruise. Why didn’t he say “I love you”? …you didn’t sound like someone who was about to die, I wish we could have sat across a table and talked about nothing for hours, I wish we could have wasted time, I want an infinitely blank book and the rest of time… Foer has a message I can’t afford to ignore. When someone is something to you, tell them. Tell them how your life is better because of them. Tell them how you are better with them. Tell them you love them. There was never a right time to say it. It was always unnecessary. The books in my father’s shed were sighing. The sheets were rising and falling around me with Anna’s breathing. I thought about waking her. But it was unnecessary. There would be other nights. And how can you say I love you to someone you love? I rolled onto my side and fell asleep next to her. Here is the point of everything I have been trying to tell you, Oskar. It’s always necessary. It's always necessary. *Read the book and you'll know what we're talking about. Maybe.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.