- Mary Buck
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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is about "...Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. 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." (Book Summary)
If you liked "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer, you might enjoy these titles:
The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
"Nathan Glass has come to Brooklyn to die. Divorced, estranged from his only daughter, the retired life insurance salesman seeks only solitude and anonymity. Then Nathan finds his long-lost nephew, Tom Wood, working in a local bookstore--a far cry from the brilliant academic career he'd begun when Nathan saw him last. Tom's boss is the charismatic Harry Brightman, whom fate has also brought to the "ancient kingdom of Brooklyn, New York." Through Tom and Harry, Nathan's world gradually broadens to include a new set of acquaintances--not to mention a stray relative or two--and leads him to a reckoning with his past. Among the many twists in the delicious plot are a scam involving a forgery of the first page of The Scarlet Letter, a disturbing revelation that takes place in a sperm bank, and an impossible, utopian dream of a rural refuge. Meanwhile, the wry and acerbic Nathan has undertaken something he calls The Book of Human Folly, in which he proposes "to set down in the simplest, clearest language possible an account of every blunder, every pratfall, every embarrassment, every idiocy, every foible, and every inane act I had committed during my long and checkered career as a man." But life takes over instead, and Nathan's despair is swept away as he finds himself more and more implicated in the joys and sorrows of others."-catalog summary
"Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon
"Told from the perspective of a 15-year-old autistic savant obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, this dazzling audiobook weaves together an old-fashioned mystery, a contemporary coming-of-age story, and a fascinating excursion into a mind incapable of processing emotions."-catalog summary
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
"Leo Gursky is just about surviving, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But life wasn't always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And though Leo doesn't know it, that book survived, inspiring fabulous circumstances, even love.
Fourteen-year-old Alma was named after a character in that very book. And although she has her hands full keeping track of her brother, Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah), and taking copious notes on 'How to Survive in the Wild' she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With consummate, spellbinding skill, Nicole Krauss gradually draws together their stories. This extraordinary book was inspired by the author's four grandparents and by a pantheon of authors whose work is haunted by loss Bruno Schulz, Franz Kafka, Isaac Babel, and more. It is truly a history of love: a tale brimming with laughter, irony, passion, and soaring imaginative power."--catalog summary
"The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint" by Brady Udall
The trials of Edgar, half Apache and mostly orphaned, begin on an Arizona reservation at the age of seven, when the mailman's jeep accidentally runs over his head. Shunted from the hospital to a school for delinquents to a Mormon foster family, comedy, pain, and trouble accompany Edgar through a string of larger-than-life experiences.
"Paris Trout" by Pete Dexter
"A respected white citizen of Cotton Point, Georgia, Paris Trout is a shopkeeper, a money-lender, and a murderer of blacks. And his friends, family and foes do not realize the danger they face in a man who simply will not see his own guilt."-catalog summary
"Slaughterhouse Five; or The Children's Crusade" by Kurt Vonnegut "Centering on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know."-catalog summary
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan C. Bradley
"Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce is an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. In the summer of 1950, a series of inexplicable events strikes Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that her family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp pinned to its beak. Later, Flavia finds a man dying in the cucumber patch. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw."-catalog summary
"The Tin Drum" by Gunter Grass
"The greatest German novel since the end of World War II, The Tin Drum is the autobiography of Oskar Matzerath, thirty years old, detained in a mental hospital, convicted of a murder he did not commit. On the day of his third birthday, Oskar had "declared, resolved, and determined [to] stop right there, remain as I was, stay the same size, cling to the same attire" (striped pullover and patent-leather shoes). That same day Oskar receives his first tin drum, and from then on it is the means of his expression, allowing him to draw forth memories from the past as well as judgments about the horrors, injustices, and eccentricities he observes through the long nightmare of the Nazi era. As that era ebbs bloodily away, as drum succeeds drum, Oskar participates in the German postwar economic miracle -- working variously in the black market, as an artist's model, in a troupe of traveling musicians. With the onset of affluence and fame, Oskar decides to grow a few inches, only to develop a humpback. But despite his newfound status (and stature), Oskar remains haunted by the deaths of his parents, afflicted by his responsibility for past sins -- and so assumes guilt for a murder he did not commit as an act of atonement and an opportunity to find consolation. The rhythms of Oskar's drums are intricate and insistent, and they lead us, often by way of shocking fantasies, through the dark forest of German history.
Through Oskar's piercing, outspoken voice and deformed little figure, through the imaginative distortion and exaggeration of historical experience, a pathetically hilarious yet startlingly true portrayal of the human situation comes into view."-catalog summary
"Usual Rules" by Joyce Maynard
It's a Tuesday morning in Brooklyn; a perfect September day. Wendy is heading to school, eager to make plans with her best friend, worried about how she looks, mad at her mother for not letting her visit her father in California, impatient with her little brother and with the almost too-loving concern of her jazz musician stepfather. She's out the door to catch the bus. An hour later comes the news: A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. Her mother's building. Through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Wendy, we gain entrance to the world rarely shown by those who documented the events of that one terrible day: a family's slow and terrible realization that Wendy's mother has died, and their struggle to go on with their lives in the face of crushing loss."-catalog summary
You may also enjoy works by Dave Eggers, Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Michael Chabon, Chuck Palahuik, Jonathan Lethem, Joseph Heller, William S. Burroughs, Italo Calvino, John Irving, David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs.