Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close discussion

what does the title mean? where is the reference in the book?

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Noel this question came up at in my book group discussion. would love some feedback.

Melissa I have a couple of thoughts on this...

"Extremely" and "Incredibly" are common words in Oskar's vocabulary. I don't recall seeing that exact combination of words in the book, I do recall stumbling on "extremely close" late in the book and being reminded of the title. Kids of Oskar's age often resort to using the same descriptive words over and over, especially using more "generic" descriptions like extremely or incredibly instead of more precise terms. (It may have been brutally, unbearably, achingly, painfully, or even unreasonably loud, but a child might likely rely simply on extremely loud.)

Also, I thought that the phrase might describe, simply but accurately, the key violence in the book (the WTC attack and the firebombing of Dresden) as seen by the witnesses.

I think the phrase also can describe some of the characters' feelings about their lost loved ones... "loud" might well describe the sudden absence (think 'sound of silence') and of course incredibly close emotionally.

It is an unusual title, I'm sure much more could be made of it upon closer thought and more careful attention to the text. Alas I don't have time to be an English major any more!

Noel On further review I found the references on pp. 293 & 295, both used during a conversation w/ William Black, and referring to their near miss when Oskar was interviewing Abby. (purposfully obtuse here so as not to reveal any spoilers).
Thx for sharing your thoughts.

message 4: by Liz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Liz Oskar mentions a flock of birds being 'extremely loud and incredibly close'.

Jennifer yes, it's right after Oskar turns on Mr. Black's hearing aid and the birds fly by outside the window. Oskar describes them as flyng by "extremely loud and incredibly close."

I also thought of it as a metaphor for 9/11 to Oskar and his life, as well as the lives of everyone he interviewed.

Michelle When the World Trade centers were attacked the attack was "extremely loud and incredibly close." May not have been overtly mentioned but that was what the book centered on.

Jenny the bombing of dresden also matches this description of "extremely loud and incredibly close"

And in a way the trauma by Oskar, his grandma and grandpa is extremely loud
and incredibly close might say close as in almost (we were almost close to one another and might have been if the trauma was not so loud). Over and over characters came close to having a real relationship and missed the mark out of fear. or it could be close as in, on this journey of healing we came actually close to each other because sometimes that happened too.

Michaeleen Actually he referred to the birds as being extremely FAST and incredibly loud. pg.165 at the bottom

Michaeleen He described the birds as being fast not loud


Kelsey He also mentioned being held "incredibly close" by his father in the earlier chapters. I also remember there being other "incredibly close" and "extremely loud"s in other parts of the book, but I don't remember exactly where.

Martine Taylor I told her "Ten thousand birds die every year from smashing into windows," because I'd accidentally found that fact when I was doing some research about the windows in the Twin Towers....so I invented a device that would detect when a bird is incredibly close to a building, and that would trigger an extremely loud birdcall from another skyscraper and they'd be drawn to that." think it's part of two reoccuring motifs in the book - 1) Oskar's desire to create something that will protect everyone, reverse time, make everything be OK and 2) hyperbole indicative of how (incredibly) intense everything feels to these (extremely) grieving characters.

Jamie I read this some years ago, but I took it as being the effects on his perception of life due to the attacks... He is more perceptive and pays attention to things more... It causes him to look at the elements around him and hear the things around "incredibly loud" and "extremely close." I thought this was furthered by the use of photographs in the book...

message 13: by Shay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shay Carper I've been writing a paper about "unusual narrators" and Oskar was a prime example. I thought the title was ambiguous, as I believe a lot of the theories in this thread, however, I also think it may be a way of telling the readers that Oskar may be an Aspie. I don't know a lot about Asperger's but from what I've read, people with Asperger's can have spurts of loudness, and also don't pick up non-verbals (closeness). Just a thought.

message 14: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Recca Another factor was Oskar's autism which made him hypersensitive to the noise of the birds. I was sorry that Mr. Black was totally left out of the movie.

message 15: by Jess (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jess Sorry if this gives anything away...

The whole point of the treasure hunt was for him to meet as many people and talk to as many people as he could in order to find out what the answer to the clues were given by his dad. (If you saw the movie, his dad (Tom Hanks) said to his mother (Sandra Bullock) that he was going to rig it so that he would have to talk to a lot of people to figure out what the answer to the clues were). Oskar didn't like talking to strange people or going to new places (or bridges, or underground, etc). He used his tambourine to get him through the uncomfortable situations. So I associated him talking to the people and getting out of his comfort zone as the Extremely Loud part... the Incredibly Close part was the fact that one of the main characters ended up being his Grandfather.

I had a hard time reading this book. I was really unclear about what was going on... I saw the movie and it really helped me put things in perspective. I really loved this book and movie.

message 16: by Jess (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jess OH! and in the end... he just wanted his dad to be proud of him... and well his dad was dead, so he couldn't be proud at this point because he ceased to exist. But I think that was the part that was "Incredibly Close"... his dad was always proud of him...and he didn't see it when his dad was a live... so it took til he died in order to see it.

I dunno... just a thought.

Clara Louise I think it not only refers to his constant use of those words in his vocabulary but to everything Oskar is experiencing and that the generations of his family has experienced. It is all extremely loud and incredibly close.

Amanda When he is having the conversation with the Mr Black that actually owns the lock, he mentions 'extremely loud' in one sentence and 'incredibly close' a paragraph or so later. He says a man was yelling 'extremely loud' and that they were 'incredibly close'. I think the title is literally referring to Mr. Black but there are obviously other meanings that can be taken from it too.

message 19: by Guin (last edited Jul 08, 2013 10:02AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Guin I took the meaning to be feeling your love one's presence but not being able to touch or feel them. Kind of like being a daze.

message 20: by Sue (new)

Sue goldberg he also has aspergers, so things are loud

Kelly Lee wrote: "Another factor was Oskar's autism which made him hypersensitive to the noise of the birds. I was sorry that Mr. Black was totally left out of the movie."

Yes! People with autism often have sensory processing challenges which sometimes heightens the senses and makes it hard for them to filter and process sensory information.

Kelly Wouldn't want to see the movie.

message 23: by Ken (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ken Matsuda the movie is amazing

just that hints of the book are not included

Roseanne Cheng Melissa wrote: "I have a couple of thoughts on this...

"Extremely" and "Incredibly" are common words in Oskar's vocabulary. I don't recall seeing that exact combination of words in the book, I do recall stumbling..."

Love this! YES!

Steve Kelly wrote: "Wouldn't want to see the movie."

You wont miss a thing. The subtle stuff in the book become, well, incredily loud and extremely close in the movie.

message 26: by Caeden (new)

Caeden Another interpretation of this title could be: the crashing of the twin towers was both extremely loud and incredibly close. This could have two meanings. The literal version in that the towers crashing were extremely loud and incredibly close to Oskar. The figurative version being that the towers crashing will always have an immense impact on Oskar. He will always hold that CLOSE to him and will always have a LOUD meaning to him.

Gabriella The more I gotten into the book, the more I noticed the use of the words extremely and incredibly. Incredibly close gets used more often. The one example I can think of without scouring the book is when he talks to William Black and mentions how they were so close to one another. The title drop is on page 250 of my book with Oscar saying, "'Yeah, so I invented a device that would detect when a bird is [incredibly close] to a building, and that would trigger an [extremely loud] birdcall from another skyscraper...'" It's when Ruth Black gives them an extended trivia tour of the Empire State Building.

I just take it to mean you've got to be honest and communicate what you want with those close to you or how when you're close to someone silence can deafen you both like many of the relationships in the story of people who went through various traumas (Mrs. Schell's silent grief, Ron's silent grief, Ruth Black's lifestyle, etc. ...).

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