Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Book Number: 
Date Fred Read: 
March 2018
Fred's Rating: 
Total Pages: 

Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the novels Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and a work of nonfiction, Eating Animals. His books have won numerous awards and were translated into 36 languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The website for the paperback edition that I borrowed is

[None of the ISBN-10, ISBN-13, or ASIN numbers on Amazon’s websites for the three editions (Kindle, hardcover, or paperback) are recognized by Amazon, thus the ‘no image Circle' appears. I think this new change by Amazon is not good. However, you can see the images of this books' covers at the website above.]

The Home page has a brief but important summary (click on ‘Read more’). After reading this novel I found myself somewhere between the first two Top Customer Reviews – by T. Bern (3 stars) and NJ (5 stars). Nine-year-old Oskar Schell's father died in the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. While searching through his dad’s things, Oskar finds an envelope with Black written on it by his dad. It contained an unusual key. This story lays out very well the inherent sadness of Oskar’s seemingly hopeless goal of finding the lock that matches the unusual key. I enjoyed his persistence, as well as the frequent humor, of Oskar as he began his task of visiting all the people in New York City with the last name of Black. Oskar started with a huge alphabetically ordered list.

Oskar and the people he met are the heart of this book. Three generations are described: his memories of his Dad, only tears from his Mom, and his paternal grandparents. His grandmother, who lived across the street from Oskar, looked after him when his parents were at work. She said little about her dysfunctional marriage, but enough to distract you from Oskar. The stories of these grandparents are told separately in detail by Foer in their words as letters. His grandfather finally became a companion of Oskar on his searches, but initially Oskar only knew him as ‘the renter’ now living with his grandmother. Near the end of the book Oskar tells himself that he had figured out that this old man was his grandfather. But the author does not tell how Oskar knew this man was his grandfather, a departure from most of the book where we are told about Oskar’s thoughts and actions. Oskar was clearly the young sad hero of this story. Near the end Oskar by accident finds a man, William Black, who knew Oskar’s dad. He told Oskar which bank had the safe deposit box for the key Oskar showed him. I could not imagine the Oskar I felt I had come to know as not very much wanting to see what his dad had put into the safe deposit box.

I found this lack of interest and action to be a disappointing anticlimax to this book. I considered this anticlimax a betrayal of the image the story had painted in my mind of the character of the persistent Oskar I felt I had come to know. Because of this lack I first thought of rating this book at just three stars (as did T. Bern). But upon further reflection I decided to rate it at four stars. For Oskar is a special and splendid character.