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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  244,344 ratings  ·  18,136 reviews
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published April 4th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

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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 ...more
Apr 01, 2009 Kim rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Kim by: Montambo
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 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
Aug 15, 2008 Bart rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one at all
Recommended to Bart by: Everything is Illuminated
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
Aug 01, 2008 Andy rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Pseudo-intellectuals, people suckered by saccharine emotion

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
Matt Holloway
Extremely Precocious and Incredibly Irritating
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
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
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
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 ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 29, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Emir
Recommended to K.D. by: Emir Never
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 ...more
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"
Christina White
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 22, 2010 Sparrow rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who haven't read History of Love
Recommended to Sparrow by: This guy (Eric?) who I worked with at BN
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 ...more
Sep 01, 2007 Lucy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: open-minded readers who don't mind the unconventional
Shelves: favorites
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 ...more
Whitney Atkinson
One of the most beautifully written and impactful stories ive read.
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
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Oct 18, 2012 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone I can talk into reading it
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Hooked by Title and Cover - Brilliant
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
Jul 09, 2010 J rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to J by: Kim
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
Oct 12, 2010 j rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nicole Krauss
Recommended to j by: Jonathan Safran Foer
Sometimes, I'm actually grateful for when good ol' insomnia kicks in. I can deep clean my kitchen without any distractions, play catch-up with the never-ending, nervous-breakdown-inducing amount of laundry I have, and even try to finally watch a movie (surprisingly, even snooze-worthy The Wolfman couldn't get me to sleep). And of course, I can read. Sure, I hate myself in the morning and feel like crap all day, but there's times that it's worth it. Especially when the book I'm reading is as good ...more
Mar 27, 2011 Joey rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
I don't think I read enough contemporary fiction to make sweeping, definitive statements about it. So I won't say that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the best book of the 21st century so far. But I will say that it's the best book I've read so far this century, and that Foer belongs in the rarified category of contemporary greats like Phillip Roth and Kurt Vonnegut.

This is not a perfect novel; it gets a little (but just a little) gimmicky in spots, and there are times when you just wish
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.
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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
Jul 19, 2007 Malbadeen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people that are willing to feel everything
Whatever with what happens to us when we die, this book reminds us of how connected we are right now and being connectioned to somone as brilliant as Foer is reason enough to be grateful!
I was completely baffaled at Foer's ability to know and convey so many things at once. His intimate view into grieving was what amazed me the most, his ability to carry you into the horrible realities without turning it into a sappy, poor kid type story was amazing.
So many things were familiar about living after
Chiara Pagliochini

“La settimana è stata una barba incredibile, a parte quando mi sono ricordato la chiave. Anche se sapevo che a New York ci sono 161.999.999 serrature che non avrebbe aperto, avevo l’impressione che aprisse tutto.”

Ci sono giorni in cui non viene spontaneo alzarsi dal letto. Rimani lì a fissare il soffitto chiedendoti cos’è che muova i tuoi piedi. Ti siedi a tavola e ascolti la gente parlare e intanto la tua testa è altrove. Pensi a persone che sono lontane, a cose che non sono successe però potev
May 16, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to have a chat with their precocious inner child
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: post Everything is Illuminated enthusiasm
There has been a voluminous outpouring of love for this book and it definitely taps into the inexpressible sadness of 9/11 and the untimely separation of thousands of individuals from their family and their loved ones. Writing about a world event which affected so many people is not an easy task and there are a veritable cats-cradle of tight ropes to be walked when putting 9/11 into what is essentially a work of popular fiction. Foer took the most neutral route by examining the aftermath of the ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Profoundly moving, beautifully written with deep compassion and empathy for human grief, for the tragic moments that define our lives and characters. Nine-year-old Oskar Schell will stay with me, I think, for a very long time.

I finished late last night (early this morning) and immediately got out of bed to look up a feature written by Ian Brown, published in The Globe & Mail on September 15th, 2001. I've remembered it to this day, because Brown wrote so eloquently about the question: "Would
MJ Nicholls
When I first this read this my socks exploded out the window and into the lake. Foer’s debut Everything is Illuminated impressed me with its Russian-Engrish humour (faultlessly rendered) and inventive helter-skelter structure, but became melodramatic when discussing the Holocaust and unnecessarily perverse in its historical narratives. This novel seemed to correct the flaws in his debut and make an impressive use of typographical kookery for direct, emotional blasts. It showed me it was possible ...more
Beth F.
I’m a pussy and won’t actually ride a rollercoaster (I hate amusement park rides) but reading this book was what I’d imagine riding a rollercoaster in the dark would be like. You never knew when it was going to go up, drop down, go upside down, stop on a dime, speed up, etc. etc. so every time you’d turn the page, it was an emotional surprise.

The main character and primary narrator of the book is a nine-year-old boy named Oskar who is precocious and I put that in italics because that’s the desc
Jun 08, 2009 Shelly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Shelly by: Kim
Thanks to GR I now want to read essentially every book my friends rate/review highly. On top of that, I have a problem of loving to buy books the way the some women love to buy shoes or handbags. (I hate stereotypes, but I think that one holds up pretty well.) So after I finished my last book I was like "Now what?" I decided to dive into a sci-fi book gifted from a GR friend (who is now my "real life" friend), but had a hard time getting into it. So I cheated on her, err it. I went back to my st ...more
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Jonathan Safran Foer (born 1977) is an American writer best known for his 2002 novel Everything Is Illuminated. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, the novelist Nicole Krauss, and their son, Sasha.
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“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living.” 8996 likes
“Why didn't I learn to treat everything like it was the last time. My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future.” 3693 likes
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