Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

GATW Guest Writer

by: GATW Guest Writer
October 15th, 2007


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close By Jonathan Safran Foer

Oskar Schell is an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

When I first picked this book up off of the shelf and flipped through the pages, I thought to myself "this is going to be interesting." The pages were filled with photos of doorknobs, colorful scribbles and unintelligible text. And for some reason it excited me.

In the book, excerpts from Oskar's grandfather's diary and letters to him from his grandmother are intertwined with the quirky narration of nine year old Oskar. The book is quite eventful and I found myself, many times, wishing I could have been there to travel along.

The story slowly reveals itself and all of the seemingly aimless interjections I had seen while skimming the pages began to make perfect sense. After a day of reading I had finished the novel and wanted to start all over again. Do yourself a favor and read this book.

Excerpt from the book:

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 Dad's 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 d'être, 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, I'd train it to say, "Wasn't 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 n'étais pas moi!"

-Oskar Schell

This book is also scheduled to be adapted as a movie. The release date is sometime in 2009.

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  • sarah

    Jonathan Safran Foer’s sophomore work is a solid follow-up to his first book that was adapted as a movie. Did you read/watch Everything Is Illuminated?

    For an interesting comparison, check out his wife’s book, The History of Love. Nicole Krause uses similar characters + themes, almost as if the two of them sat at opposing desks and challenged each other to a write-off of love and loss.

    Keep up the book reviews, boys! I’d love to see a “Currently Reading” portion added so we could sync up and work off others’ recommendations. What do you think?

  • http://www.cameronsanderson.com cameron

    good idea. i really liked Everything is Illuminated. also, i have been meaning to read The History of Love. someone else told me the exact same thing, that they are very similar. i was just in the middle of reading the final harry potter book that i didn’t have time to pick it up. but i definitely will. thanks for your comment.

  • Lizz

    I love this book because so much of it is unbelievable, and yet because we want so much to believe in Oskar, it becomes a wonderfully captivating story of learning that while we cannot change what has already happened, we CAN change how we will let it change us. In the end, all the narratives of the story revert to their beginning and though they try to reverse themselves by having “the collapsed ceilings re-form above us”,they all end with the knowledge that we have to be willing to rebuild them and not wait for them to rebuild themselves.

    My favorite exerpt:

    “Does it break my heart, of course, every moment of every day, into more pieces than my heart was made of, I never thought of myself as quiet, much less silent, I never thought about things at all, everything changed, the distance that wedged itself between me and my happiness wasn’t the world, it wasn’t the bombs and burning buildings, it was me, my thinking, the cancer of never letting go, is ignorance bliss, I don’t know, but it’s so painful to think, and tell me, what did thinking ever do for me, to what great place did thinking ever bring me? I think and think and think, I’ve thought myself out of happiness a million times, but never once into it. “I” was the last word I was able to speak aloud, which is a terrible thing, but there it is….. and then I lost “I” and my silence was complete.” (17)

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