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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer (of Everything Is Illuminated fame). The book is written in multiple viewpoints. The majority is in the first person, and is told by Oskar, a 9-year-old boy. Between chapters are letters written by Oskar's paternal grandparents, detailing how they met and eventually separated.
The book is written in Anachronic Order, starting in the present and then going back two years detailing how the story got to that point. The story follows Oskar, whose father died during the 9/11 attacks. Oskar and his father used to play a game called "reconnaissance expedition", in which Oskar would be instructed to find a variety of objects. A year after his father's death, Oskar finds a key in an envelope which has the name "Black" written on it. He believes these are clues and are part of an expedition that his father was planning, and makes it his life's goal to discover the meaning behind it.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: While many of Oskar's quirks remain in the movie (his tambourine playing, his ambiguous autism, etc.), some of his more annoying qualities were removed. His obsession with all things white (food and clothing), his pretentiousness, and the sadistic thoughts he has about his classmates are all absent in the film. Oskar also earns his happy ending, as opposed to the book, which ended on a decidedly more depressing note.
- In addition, the story of Oskar's grandparents is completely left out, with his grandfather's voicelessness chalked up to witnessing a bombing back in World War II.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Oskar regularly sees a therapist who confesses to his mother that he thinks Oskar should be institutionalized.
- Big Applesauce
- Billing Displacement: Noticeably averted. Despite Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock's roles as Oskar's parents,Thomas Horn is the only actor to feature prominently on the movie poster. Indeed, you would have to look quite closely to realize Tom Hanks or Sandra Bullock were even in it.
- Broken Record: Oskar's private lexicon: the elliptical verbal tics of a Cloudcuckoolander, not Madness Mantras. Such as the "heavy Oskar'sboots" of grief slowing Oskar's progress, searching through the five remaining boroughs for the owner of the key. Or using "José!" to mean "You can't be serious!" (omitting "No way..." from the exclamation).
- Creepy Child: Sometimes Oskar's behavior goes way beyond No Social Skills. He brought in a recording of a man recalling, in gory detail, the bombing of Hiroshima for his elementary school class to listen to, he dropped his cat off the school roof (he knew the cat would be fine, but his classmates sure didn't), and he fantasizes about beating some of his classmates to death.
- Disappeared Dad: Oskar's grandfather Thomas to his father, also named Thomas. His letters, which are all titled "Why I'm Not Where You Are", are addressed to Oskar's father, and in them the elder Thomas apologizes and explains why he wasn't in his son's life.
- Hide Your Pregnancy: An in-universe example. One of the "rules" that Oskar's grandparents made was to never have children, but his grandmother felt she was losing him, so she made a pregnancy happen anyway and hid it with baggy clothing and pillows. Still didn't stop him from leaving.
- Kill'Em All: During the bombings in Dresden, Grandpa comes across a zoo, and the keeper asks him to shoot everything...which includes the normally harmless animals. Would be a Moral Event Horizon, except that the animals most likely would've eaten human corpses if they were left alone, plus Grandpa felt guilty enough about the event that he bought tons of animals for his apartment after he relocated to New York.
- Nazi Germany: Where and when Oskar's grandparents grew up.
- No Name Given: Oskar's mother and grandmother are never named, and he refers to them only in those terms.
- No Social Skills: Some of the games Oskar and his father played involved Oskar being forced to speak to people, because his father wanted Oskar to get better at it.
- Despite having gained self-control with maturity, Oskar's father was Not So Different: as Mom (with mixed feelings) recalls, frequently.
- Oscar Bait: Probably the most shameless example in recent memory. Despite being critically drubbed upon release, it still somehow got a Best Picture nomination, almost purely for its subject material. Main reason for this is that the story doesn't entirely need to be about 9/11, the father could just as easily have died in a fire or a car wreck with very little change to the overall story. But it's important, right? Cos it's about 9/11? Remember that? Wasn't that very sad and important? This is a very sad and important movie.
- Present Day Past: (movie only) A 2008-up Ford Escape with the "NYCTAXI" logo introduced in 2007 is prominent in the trailer's first street scene.
- Self -Harm: Oskar frequently bruised himself when he was upset.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: The alternation between Oskar's plotline and that of his grandparents.
- The Voiceless: Oskar's grandfather Thomas. After Anna's death, Thomas slowly loses the ability to say certain words, until eventually he can't say any.
- Unusual Euphemism: Oskar's mother forbids him from using profanity, which leads to the phrases 'Dipshiitake', 'Fukuzawa you', and 'succotash my balzac'.
- X Meets Y: The original novel is The Invention of Hugo Cabret meets Catcher in The Rye.
- You Remind Me of X: The only reason Oskar's grandparents got together is that his grandmother reminded Thomas of Anna, her sister and his first love.
- You Should Have Died Instead: Oskar sometimes feels this way about his mother and even says it at one point, but he immediately regrets it.