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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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Talk about Oskar—an unusually precious child. Do you find him sympathetic or annoying? Or both?

For Shakespeare buffs: Oskar "plays Yorick" (the long dead jester whose skull Hamlet holds in his hand!) in a school production. What is the significance of that role? (See Hamlet: Act V, Scene I, Line 188).

Jonathan Safran Foer has said that he writes about characters and their miscommunications: some characters think they're saying a lot but say nothing; others say nothing but end up saying a lot. Which characters fall into which category in Extremely Loud? What might Foer be saying about our ability to communicate deep-seated emotions?

Some critics have wondered where Oskar's mother is and how the child is left alone to wander the streets of New York alone at night. Is that a relevant comment? Do you see this book as a work of realism (in which case the mother's role would matter) ... or as more of a fable, on the order, say, of Life of Pi? If the latter, what is Extremely Loud a fable of? (Like Pi, Oskar seems to be a quester—but of what?)

Do you find the illustrations, siblings, over-written texts, etc. a meaningful, integral part of the work? Or do you find them distracting and gimmicky? Why are they there?

How do both main plot and subplot (Oskar's grandfather and the bombing of Dresden) interweave with one another?