LizardW, April 2, 2014 (view all comments by LizardW)
In the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, a nine year old boy, Oskar Schnell, deals with loneliness due to his father’s death from the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Oskar encounters grief due to his father’s death, neglection from his mother, insomnia, depression, and panic attacks. While searching through his father’s closet one evening, Oskar finds an envelope with the word “black” written on it, and a key inside. Oskar searches all around his apartment trying to find what the key opens. Eventually, Oskar searches all over New York, by himself, to discover what the mysterious key opens.
The setting of the novel was one of the most devastating times in American History. The were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda upon the United States in New York City and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Four planes were hijacked so they could be flown into buildings as suicide attacks. One of those buildings happened to be where Oskar’s father was killed.
Oskar describes himself wearing “heavy boots” frequently, which is when he is feeling sad or depressed. “I thought for a minute, then i got heavy boots” (39). He is very smart for his age, although he skips school frequently to go on his key hunt. “I love that story because it shows how ignorant people can be” (11). His father used to tell him stories and play intricate problem-solving games where Oskar would have to work hard to find the answer. Oskar’s dad was his hero and his life is falling apart without him. He develops many problems throughout the novel such as insomnia, depression, and panic attacks. At night Oskar invents strange things, such as kite-string bracelets and watering skyscrapers.
The book does a wonderful job of achieving its goal. The goal of the book is to inform readers of the effects the 9/11 attacks can have on everyone, no matter the age, and also the struggles of childhood innocence and coping with loss. Some ideas and possibilities suggested by the book are how tragic the event was, and how little some people know about the attacks, and coping with grief. The book leaves out how everyone around Oskar feels in the situation, because it is only from the point of view of Oskar. The not-so-convincing points of the book are that a nine year old boy would not be able to skip school and wander around New York all by himself, in real life. Foer controls all of the aspects of the book such as language, character, and plot. He decided that Oskar should be the one telling the story, which is interesting to see something tragic told through the eyes of a child.
Oskar is a young boy that goes on a life-defining journey around New York. He developed many problems including his neglecting mother, and coping with loss. His grandparents taught his a valuable lesson in the book: when something is left in a nothing place it could never be retrieved.
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Booklover108, December 21, 2013 (view all comments by Booklover108)
I love the book! It is one of my absolute favorite books. I love how confusing it is, and how it took my friend and I like a 5 hour car trip to figure out what relation to Oskar the silent man with the yes and no tats has in the umm, 3rd chapter(?) with the letter. Anyway, love this book and totally recommend it. The movie is also excellent
lukas, October 31, 2013 (view all comments by lukas)
Foer's first novel is one of my least favorite of the decade, but this may have supplanted it. I don't know exactly what it is I can't stand about him (well, everything really), but few writers annoy me like he does. Narrated by an absurdly precocious 9 year old boy who lost his father in 9/11, "Extremely Close" presents itself as a virtuosic tour of post-9/11 NYC, as well as a linguistically creative, experimental novel, incorporating photographs, multiple fonts, idiosyncratic grammar and formating and illustrations. The writing style is somewhat similar to "Motherless Brooklyn" and "Curious Incident of the Dog" in its use of an eccentric, possibly autistic narrator. It ends with photos of the man falling from the Tower, which feels exploitive and attempt to infuse a profundity and depth that this sorely lacks. A travesty.
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leslieluvzbooks, September 2, 2013 (view all comments by leslieluvzbooks)
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I admit, I was a bit jostled by the first few pages. Jonathan's style flows directly from one thought to the next, sort of like stream-of-consciousness, without being so deliberately adamant in the aversion to anything remotely organized.
And yet, the more I read, the more I had to think about. This is more than just the abstract ramblings of a young boy's thoughts and interactions in a borough of New York. This is a son trying to gather the scattered memories of his father in the wake of unspeakable tragedy. This is a boy trying to reconnect with someone he will never see again. This is one person among millions who latches onto even the smallest aspect of everyday life that the rest of us take for granted, and use it to restore meaning and purpose to his life. Because the more we are inclined to feel like everyone around us is silent and far away, the more we realize that the world is shouting, and it's extremely loud and incredibly close.
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ca_oregon, January 4, 2013 (view all comments by ca_oregon)
I didn't read this book for the first time this year, but I came back to it after seeing the film. It's such a poignant story told with great sensitivity and generosity of human difficulties. The mystery of it propels it forward while one grieves along with the main character and wonders how one can cope. Of all of the things I've read or seen that deal with 9/11, this still stands out to me as one of the best. It's powerful on first reading and on subsequent re-readings.
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by Boston Globe,
“Energetic, inventive, and ambitious...an uplifting myth born of the sorrows of 9/11.”
by Baltimore Sun,
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a miracle, a daybreak, a man on the moon. It's so impeccably imagined, so courageously executed, so everlastingly moving and fine.”
"A funny, wise, deeply compassionate novel that will renew readers' faith that the right book at the right time still has the power to change the world." O, The Oprah Magazine
by Village Voice,
"Foer is definitely a new sort of literary warrior — virtuosic, visionary, ingenious, hilarious, heartbreaking. He brings an astonishing array of firepower to the page."
New York Times bestseller
A Best Book of the Year
Los Angeles Times, Washington Post Book World, Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rocky Mountain News
Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history.
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.
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