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Extremely loud & incredibly close / Jonathan Safran Foer.

By: Foer, Jonathan Safran, 1977-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : Penguin, 2006Description: 326 pages ; 20 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780141012698.Other title: Extremely loud and incredibly close.Subject(s): September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001 -- Fiction | Fathers and sons -- Fiction | New York (N.Y.) -- FictionGenre/Form: Domestic fiction. | General fiction.Summary: Jonathan Safran Foer confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination. Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, and pacifist. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone’s heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who’ve lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father’s grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother’s apartment. They are there to dig up his father’s empty coffin.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key . . . The key belonged to his father, he's sure of that. But which of New York's 162 million locks does it open?So begins a quest that takes Oskar - inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective - across New York's five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives and complete strangers. He gets heavy boots, he gives himself little bruises and he inches ever nearer to the heart of a family mystery that stretches back fifty years. But will it take him any closer to, or even further from, his lost father?

Jonathan Safran Foer confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination. Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, and pacifist. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone’s heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who’ve lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father’s grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother’s apartment. They are there to dig up his father’s empty coffin.

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Excerpt provided by Syndetics

What The?What about a teakettle? What if the spout opened and closed when the steam came out, so it would become a mouth, and it could whistle pretty melodies, or do Shakespeare, or just crack up with me? I could invent a teakettle that reads in Dads voice, so I could fall asleep, or maybe a set of kettles that sings the chorus of "Yellow Submarine," which is a song by the Beatles, who I love, because entomology is one of my raisons dtre, which is a French expression that I know. Another good thing is that I could train my anus to talk when I farted. If I wanted to be extremely hilarious, Id train it to say, "Wasnt me!" every time I made an incredibly bad fart. And if I ever made an incredibly bad fart in the Hall of Mirrors, which is in Versailles, which is outside of Paris, which is in France, obviously, my anus would say, "Ce ntais pas moi!" What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? When you skateboarded down the street at night you could hear everyones heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. One weird thing is, I wonder if everyones hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which I know about, but dont really want to know about. That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldnt have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. And at the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon it would sound like war. And also, there are so many times when you need to make a quick escape, but humans dont have their own wings, or not yet, anyway, so what about a birdseed shirt? Anyway. My first jujitsu class was three and a half months ago. Self- defense was something that I was extremely curious about, for obvious reasons, and Mom thought it would be good for me to have a physical activity besides tambourining, so my first jujitsu class was three and a half months ago. There were fourteen kids in the class, and we all had on neat white robes. We practiced bowing, and then we were all sitting down Native American style, and then Sensei Mark asked me to go over to him. "Kick my privates," he told me. That made me feel self-conscious. "Excusez-moi?" I told him. He spread his legs and told me, "I want you to kick my privates as hard as you can." He put his hands at his sides, and took a breath in, and closed his eyes, and thats how I knew that actually he meant business. "Jose," I told him, and inside I was thinking, What the? He told me, "Go on, guy. Destroy my privates." "Destroy your privates?" With his eyes still closed he cracked up a lot and said, "You couldnt destroy my privates if you tried. Thats whats going on here. This is a demonstration of the well-trained bodys abil Excerpted from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Oskar Schell is like any nine-year-old, except that he is tumbling through grief over his father's death in the attack on the World Trade Center. As his mind races to outpace reality, Oskar sets out on the ultimate scavenger hunt through New York City to discover more about a key he finds among his father's belongings. As with his debut, Everything Is Illuminated, Foer employs colliding time lines. Here Oskar's grandparents inch toward "living" through emotional letters that release the horrors of their Dresden childhood. Only Oskar's mother remains a remote caregiver for most of the novel. Throughout, Foer nimbly explores the misunderstandings that compound when grief silences its victims. It's hard to believe that such an inherently sad story could be so entertaining, but Foer's writing lightens the load. Oskar's rolling chatter, punctuated by stinging declarations, is often welcome comic relief. Oskar is alive, and as he invents a safer world in his head and among all those he touches, he's also learning to live. Foer's excellent second novel vibrates with the details of a current tragedy but successfully explores the universal questions that trauma brings on its floodtide. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/04.]-Rebecca Miller, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Safran Foer's bestseller follows the adventures of nine-year-old Oskar Schell, a scientist, collector, tambourine player, and solver of puzzles. The young boy roams New York City in a fervent search for a lock that will match the key left behind by his father, who was killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11. Jeff Woodman captures all of Oskar's contradictions: a prodigy who understands physics and lives in terror of the immediate world around him. Richard Ferrone provides Oskar's grandfather a gravelly voice, while Barbara Caruso deftly renders Oskar's grandmother, lending her a slight European accent and the right mix of wisdom and helplessness. This fine ensemble recording will keep listeners engaged. A Mariner paperback. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Oskar Schell is not your average nine-year-old. A budding inventor, he spends his time imagining wonderful creations. He also collects random photographs for his scrapbook and sends letters to scientists. When his father dies in the World Trade Center collapse, Oskar shifts his boundless energy to a quest for answers. He finds a key hidden in his father's things that doesn't fit any lock in their New York City apartment; its container is labeled "Black." Using flawless kid logic, Oskar sets out to speak to everyone in New York City with the last name of Black. A retired journalist who keeps a card catalog with entries for everyone he's ever met is just one of the colorful characters the boy meets. As in Everything Is Illuminated (Houghton, 2002), Foer takes a dark subject and works in offbeat humor with puns and wordplay. But Extremely Loud pushes further with the inclusion of photographs, illustrations, and mild experiments in typography reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions (Dell, 1973). The humor works as a deceptive, glitzy cover for a fairly serious tale about loss and recovery. For balance, Foer includes the subplot of Oskar's grandfather, who survived the World War II bombing of Dresden. Although this story is not quite as evocative as Oskar's, it does carry forward and connect firmly to the rest of the novel. The two stories finally intersect in a powerful conclusion that will make even the most jaded hearts fall.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

This follow-up to Foer's extremely good and incredibly successful Everything Is Illuminated0 (2002) stars one Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old amateur inventor and Shakespearean actor. But Oskar's boots, as he likes to say, are very heavy--his father, whom he worshiped, perished in the World Trade Center on 9/11. In his dad's closet a year later, Oskar finds a key in a vase mysteriously labeled "Black." So he goes searching after the lock it opens, visiting (alphabetically) everyone listed in the phone book with the surname Black. Oskar, who's a cross between The Tin Drum0 's Oskar Matzerath and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time0 's Christopher Boone, doesn't always sound like he's nine, but his first-person narration of his journey is arrestingly beautiful, and readers won't soon forget him. A subplot about Oskar's mute grandfather, who survived the bombing of Dresden, isn't as compelling as Oskar's quest for the lock, but when the stories finally come together, the result is an emotionally devastating climax. No spoilers here, but we will say that the book--which includes a number of photographs and some eccentric typography--ends with what is undoubtedly the most beautiful and heartbreaking flip book in all of literature. --Ray Olson Copyright 2005 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

The search for the lock that fits a mysterious key dovetails with related and parallel quests in this (literally) beautifully designed second from the gifted young author (Everything Is Illuminated, 2002). The searcher is nine-year-old Oskar Schell, an inventive prodigy who (albeit modeled on the protagonist of Grass's The Tin Drum) employs his considerable intellect with refreshing originality in the aftermath of his father Thomas's death following the bombing of the World Trade Center. That key, unidentified except for the word "black" on the envelope containing it, impels Oskar to seek out every New Yorker bearing the surname Black, involving him with a reclusive centenarian former war correspondent, and eventually the nameless elderly recluse who rents a room in his paternal grandma's nearby apartment. Meanwhile, unmailed letters from a likewise unidentified "Thomas" reveal their author's loneliness and guilt, while stretching backward to wartime Germany and a horrific precursor of the 9/11 atrocity: the firebombing of Dresden. In a riveting narrative animated both by Oskar's ingenuous assumption of adult responsibility and understanding (interestingly, he's "playing Yorick" in a school production of Hamlet) and the letter-writer's meaningful silences, Foer sprinkles his tricky text with interpolated illustrations that render both objects of Oskar's many interests and the word and memories of a survivor who has forsworn speech, determined to avoid the pain of loving too deeply. The story climaxes as Oskar discovers what the key fits, and also the meaning of his life (all our lives, actually), in a long-awaited letter from astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. Much more is revealed as this brilliant fiction works thrilling variations on, and consolations for, its plangent message: that "in the end, everyone loses everyone." Yes, but look what Foer has found. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.