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Thought provoking, funny and relatable! I thoroughly enjoyed this work of genius, so much to take away from it! Was daunted at first but quickly can get into the rhythm, and it works really well. If you've been considering picking up this book, do it!
As you’ve probably heard, this is a very long novel, written from the point of view of an unnamed forty-something stay-at-home mother of four, who lives in Newcomerstown, Ohio. She ruminates, wonders, jumps from one thing to another; she’s perplexed, vexed, stuck, scared, and filled with guilt; she’s nervous, neurotic, forgetful, distracted, intense and constantly tired. She’s a good representation for many mothers in today’s Western World. Three years prior, she had had cancer, “the embarrassing kind”, which put a strain on the family’s finances, which is why she’s taken to baking pies and other desserts to sell to cafes and diners. Her second husband, Leo, and the biological father to the youngest three kids, is an Engineering professor at an Ohio University. He sounds like a great guy, which is a nice counterbalance to all the male vileness mentioned in the book.
Have you ever wished you had less knowledge about current affairs, politics, the environment, hoping that ignorance might bring you some semblance of bliss? Is it possible to be happy and serene when one knows about the crazy world we live in? Is it surprising that so many people suffer from anxiety? This novel is basically riddled with one woman’s anxieties. I related to some and understood others.
There are several themes that keep popping up in this novel: - how much her mother’s stroke just “broke her” - male violence - deadbeat dads - parenthood and its many tribulations - gun violence and the constant fear that someone will shoot your kids while at school - the environment and the damage caused by humans - history and the many cruelties and injustices perpetrated against the native people - police violence.
Several movies and books are discussed in detail - some I knew, others I had to look up. Google will be your friend on many occasions.
Ducks, Newburyport is extremely contemporary, a time capsule of Trump’s America. It’s mesmerising, original, realistic, intelligent, observant, and occasionally amusing. Oh, and anxiety-inducing.
Ultimately, this was satisfying and worthwhile the time spent in its company. It’s not for everybody, no book is.
… this book was written does not surprise me, the fact that I read it (mostly) does because minimally punctuated stream of consciousness writing is hard on my concentration, regardless of the fact that I can relate to musings about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the fact that the world is stressful, the fact that children and parents need to be worried over as does survival as we march towards destruction, the fact that cherry pies need to be latticed and the fact that it is hard to absorb facts.
The fact is I found this book amusing, challenging, clever and irritating and the fact is that it is either too long or not long enough.
And no, I am not surprised that it has been nominated for the Booker Prize. The fact is that I won’t be surprised if it wins, or if it doesn’t.