Ducks, Newburyport: A Novel

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The unnamed narrator of this epic doorstop of a novel is an Ohio mother of four, married twice, a pie-baker by trade. Over the course of nearly a thousand pages, she free-associates as she bakes her pies, delivers them, deals with a flat tire, manages her children and spouse, and confronts endlessly appearing news stories, the stream of consciousness constant and dizzying. Climate change, motherhood, history, nature, politics—no subject goes untouched, and no connotation is too random. Wordplay and lists show a mind uneasy and at work, never still as it chews through the tasks of the day. Contrasting the narrator’s stream of consciousness are occasional short sections that feature a lioness and her cubs. Terse and specific, these more traditional scenes are a relief from the constant mental chatter but not separate from it.

The narrator separates her thoughts with the phrase “the fact that,” and grammatical resolution is never offered. There is enlightenment in the melee, and heartbreak, too, as separations of all kinds—expected and unexpected, willing and unwilling—challenge mothers of all species. Love, parenthood, survival, and loss are the dominant notes, and readers who give themselves over to the dense pages will find themselves moved.


Reviewed By:

Author Lucy Ellmann
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 1040 pages
Publisher Biblioasis
Publish Date 2019-09-10
ISBN 9781771963077
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue February 2020
Category Modern Literature
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