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3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,661 Ratings  ·  172 Reviews
"A writer good enough to restore your faith in fiction."
It is only a week in the life of a 35-year old bachelor school teacher in a small Minnesota town. But it is an extraodinary week, filled with the poetry of living, the sweetness of expectation, and the glory of surprise that can change a life forever....
"Absolutely smashing....An altogether successfu
Paperback, 341 pages
Published June 23rd 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published 1977)
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Judi just buy it….you will never be sorry. there is not one word that isn't in the right place. Jon Hassler was a distinguished author. you should read…morejust buy it….you will never be sorry. there is not one word that isn't in the right place. Jon Hassler was a distinguished author. you should read everyone of his books. they will lift your spirits and stay in your heart forever.(less)
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Dec 30, 2010 Malaya rated it really liked it
The worlds Jon Hassler paints are ugly. Something in me recoils from the unprettiness of the scenery - the messiness of the characters' lives. Jane Austen, on the other hand, enthralls me. Her worlds are succinct, neat, tidy orderly. Even the chaos in her novels is well-framed by virtue, and never becomes too unhinged. In contrast, Hassler plays with the dark side of each mind. You never are allowed fully to escape from the fact of chaos. The situations in this book are - messy. The main charact ...more
Sep 24, 2008 Keith rated it it was amazing
This is more of a confession than a review. A few weeks ago I was overnighting with my next-of-kin, and I had trouble sleeping. So I went out into the basement living space and curled up on the sofa with a book called "Staggerford" by Jon Hassler that I found on a bookshelf in another room. I had read Hassler before, but never any of the Staggerford stuff. I was intrigued. And when I packed up to leave next morning, I packed up Staggerford and too it along. Without asking. It came to me as I rea ...more
Scott D.
Nov 17, 2013 Scott D. rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
My description of this novel: A week in the life of small-town high school teacher Miles Pruitt. There wasn't a fast moving plot. In fact, I'd have trouble explaining what the plot actually was. The only thing that seemed to push this novel forward was time itself.

I enjoyed it immensely, right up until the ending. I thought about it for a couple of days but am unable to convince myself that this ending isn't out of place or that it has a larger worthwhile point.

Yet, like I said, I really liked
Barbara Brien
I would characterize this novel as a (then: 1974) modern day tragedy. I kept imagining how it would be rewritten today. The writing was fine, but the book truly embraced the time in which it was written, and much of the subject matter no longer applies today. On the other hand, some of the subject matter was timeless, and one of the passages spoke to me.

Nadine said, "I think Gone With the Wind has the stupidest ending I've ever read."
"Oh, no. It's inspiring. 'Tomorrow is another day,' says Sc
Nov 06, 2007 Barry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somewhere North of the Twin Cities and probably not too far from Lake Wobegone is John Hassler’s fictitious town of Staggerford, Minn.

At the center of Staggerford is one Miles Pruitt, a thirty-something, overweight school teacher. He’s also one of the better and more believable characters I’ve come across in some time. Pruitt is a live-and-let-live sort who rents a room in town, laments the loss of his childhood love to his older brother, and is currently in love with his boss’s wife. But what c
Apr 08, 2012 Mmars rated it it was amazing
Funny. I read this when I was in my early 20s and Miles Pruett seemed like an old man, skimming reviews and I now realize he's only in his mid-30s & young! This is another small town book that I loved. Found it a fast and amusing read. Hassler knows rural Minnesota well & his characters are true, perhaps a bit exaggerated or quirky, but still loveable on the edges. If you've ever spent time in the northern half of Minnesota you've known these people. Nosy, yet guarded. Conservative on th ...more
Jun 10, 2015 Dianne rated it liked it
Had a hard time with this book, and also a hard time deciding on a rating. Not sure what I expected the book to be, but as I got into it I decided it was one of those quirky, glimpse-of-small-town-life books, with lots of wry, tongue-in-cheek humor and a fairly plotless, meandering style. This all changed drastically in the last 15% or so of the book, catching me off guard.

No spoilers, since I don't believe in doing that. Still, in spite of some amusing moments along the way, I don't think I'll
Thierry Sagnier
Mar 21, 2015 Thierry Sagnier rated it it was amazing
I have read all of Hassler's works and genuinely mourned his death some three years ago. To me, he remains a largely undiscovered treasure of American literature. His books are wonderfully written and shine with the innocence of a time long gone. Staggerford is probably his best work, though all his small-town tales are well worth reading. If Goodreads had six stars, I'd give them all to this phenomenal author.
This was a book that gave me a book hangover as I read it. I found myself in Staggerford at odd times of the day. I wondered how a week in the life of Miles Pruitt would end. In otherwords, it was an engrossing book. Not only was it engrossing, it was well-written. A review I read mentioned a plot and as I sat here I also wondered about a plot. Does your life have a plot? Seven days in the life of one man. Seven days filled with ordinary, everyday things like everyone's lives are. Seven days fil ...more
Jul 15, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Found this at a book giveaway, and read it for the second time after maybe 35 years. I've given it 5 stars not necessarily for literary merit, but because it has stayed in my mind as a favorite book for all this time, and I still chuckled out loud at Miles' descriptions of faculty meetings, costume parties, small town personalities, etc., and ached at the tragedies involved.
Nov 21, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it
I feel a little guilty giving Jon Hassler's debut only four stars. I suppose the knockdown from five is for scale. Yeah, it's a small novel in some ways, but this tale of a week in the life of a bachelor school teacher and other small-town Midwesterners is by turns funny as hell and quite moving. Regional writing doesn't get a whole lot better. For me, Hassler finds just the right mix of darkness and light in the hearts of his characters, and as his first venture into 10-plus novels of the explo ...more
Nov 21, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
The story of a week in the life of a thirty-five year old school teacher in the small town of Staggerford, Minnesota. The New York Times said, "A writer good enough to restore your faith in fiction." That's what got me to read this book. It's an old book. It's been around a few decades, so your sure to find it on your library's shelves. This was a book filled with rich descriptions, hilarious scenarios, and an engrossing story. I don't want to give away too much, but if you want a great read, yo ...more
Jul 01, 2016 Marguerite rated it it was ok
I borrowed this book through the Overdrive on line library lending system. I chose this book because it was listed as a romance and I had read some pretty heavy books in the last week and I wanted something light.

I can't even imagine how this could be classified as a romance. I was intrigued because it was written by a man and most romances are written by women. I was also interested because of all the high praise this author had apparently earned for his skill in writing fiction. This was not
Sandra Hutchison
This book has much to entertain, especially for teachers, since it's excellent at capturing the inanities of school administration and students and colleagues, as well as other comedies of small town life. The characters are vivid, although much of this relies on long, not terribly realistic (but very funny) dialogue. The comic elements are stellar. BUT ... the Kindle version I read is absolutely riddled with typos. For example, the word "die" -- which appears pretty often, a theme of the book - ...more
Jane Mackay
Feb 18, 2010 Jane Mackay rated it it was amazing
Going to send this to a good friend who's a high school English teacher when I've finished it. She has been in my mind the whole time I've been reading and sometimes I've laughed aloud at the thought of how hard she'll laugh at some of the passages describing the protagonist's life as a high school English teacher. She will *so* relate!

Great book. Thoroughly enjoying it. Thinking of putting Jon Hassler on my "read anything by this author" list.
Nancy Baker
Oct 07, 2015 Nancy Baker rated it really liked it
Slaggerford, written by Jon Hassler, was a bit of fresh air for me. A relatively inexpensive book I purchased on my Nook turned out to be worth its weight in gold. I can’t really say it was one of those books that you can’t put down and yet there was something about it that kept me coming back at every spare moment for yet another glimpse into small town life in Staggerford. Part drama, part mystery and (for me), part comedy, I somehow felt connected to each character.

Miles Pruitt is a high sch
Apr 02, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it
Another small town epistle about a 35 year old bachelor. The people were like good old friends and the relationship of the town with the local Indians shows our ineptness of understanding and using the proper tools to navigate all types of personalities. The role of Agatha McGee as landlady and support of the protagonist, Miles is beautifully written. You grow to admire the rich spirit held by these two people. Thanatopsis also is someone you would just love to have as a friend as well as Beverl ...more
Jul 26, 2015 Dave rated it it was amazing
Well, wow. Thoroughly enjoyed this, though it took an unexpected turn. Frankly, I'm not sure I've been more surprised by a twist, but the book still held together marvelously. Endearingly human characters who do grow and evolve throughout the book, which is always a surefire hook for me. Looking forward to reading additional stories about the town of Staggerford.
Jun 22, 2016 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic example of an unassuming book but once you start reading it you realize what a gem you have in your hands. I had never heard of this author and the book jacket was underwhelming but I'd kept it on my bookshelf all these years....I finally picked it up and it was the most satisfying read I've had in a while. Life in a small town seen through the eyes of a high school teacher who was born and raised in the town he teaches in is conveyed so beautifully and subtly that you forget t ...more
Nov 23, 2015 Carrie rated it really liked it
I had intended to read a more literary fiction (that is, one of Cormac McCarthy's, as earlier noted) on the plane to and from Chicago. But there was this old paperbook copy of a book that I couldn't set aside, once started. I read a few chapters, became enamored with Miles, and am now laughing more than justified, probably (ack-comedians, for example). Only now on Sunday (that is, the chapter). But this book is competing with Jane Smiley's and Anne Tyler's style (quirky, spot on, insightful, fun ...more
Oct 02, 2015 Ron rated it liked it
This book reminds me a little of a modern day "Main Street". The story takes place in the fictional rural Minnesota town of Staggerford and follows for several days the life of a 30 year old high school English teacher. Miles, a confirmed bachelor and life long resident of the town, is unwittingly thrown into a series of events that test his character and courage and ultimately show him to be a man of great compassion. This is a good story with equal amounts of humor and sorrow but with a keen i ...more
May 24, 2016 Jean rated it liked it
Very pleasant reading experience until near the end when a very unexpected and stunning thing occurred, completely out of the blue, which actually left me feeling cheated and pretty depressed for days.

I live in the upper midwest, and that may explain why I felt that the characters were a little too stereotypical which led some really good laughs every now and then, but I was looking for a little less pat of a read - again up until that utterly incongruous event occurred in the penultimate pages
Jill Kalz
Jul 08, 2016 Jill Kalz rated it liked it
Like so many people have said before, I wish there were halves to the Goodreads rating system. I would rather give "Staggerford" 3.5 stars than 3, because there was much to enjoy in this book, but alas, 3 stars, it is (although 3 stars is still a good, worthwhile read in my book). Spot-on descriptions of northern Minnesota life and the daily tedium and drama experienced by small-town high school teachers (primarily English teacher Miles Pruitt) -- grading theme papers, the distinct personalities ...more
Elizabeth Quinn
Jul 07, 2015 Elizabeth Quinn rated it liked it
"Staggerford" is the first novel of the late Jon Hassler, a Minnesota writer who my mother recommended to me thirty years ago. Not for the first time, I wish I'd taken her advice. The novel is what I call a town book, a story that includes a large cast of characters in a particular place at a particular time with a variety of subplots that are all stitched together by a main character. The character in here is high school English teacher Miles Pruit, a 35-year-old bachelor who boards with a 60-s ...more
Rufusgermanicus Meelberg
Apr 15, 2009 Rufusgermanicus Meelberg rated it did not like it
This book was, and will always remain, the first experience I can remember as an "adult" with horrible writing. I was assigned it in advanced English, though why it should be considered appropriate for such a course is beyond me. I was told mostly that we were reading it because Hassler was a rarity in Minnesota, a successful native author. Well apparently, F. Scott Fitzgerald he wasn't. This book, set in a small Minnesota town, as all Hassler books are, is abysmally shoddy. Firstly, let's deal ...more
Dec 30, 2012 Patti rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2010 Sandy rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 01, 2008 El rated it it was ok
I'm often drawn to books about people, often living in small towns, whose lives are bigger than may seem to the eye of the casual observer. And while I'm drawn to them I'm also often disappointed (Sherwood Anderson, anyone?) and like I could do better (well, duh...). Staggerford is one of those books.

On the outside it has great potential. Miles Pruitt is a 35-year-old teacher in Staggerford, Minnesota, a small town with a supposedly big heart, if you can just get past the neuroses of the charact
May 06, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the fourth Jon Hassler novel I read but the first he wrote. In it, he introduces us to Staggerford, a northern Minnesota town that we discover is a two-hour drive from Duluth. It appears at first blush to be a dull town full of dull people, and "Staggerford" the book is dull in places as well. But we learn that there is more to the people, and the novel, than at first meets the eye.
My favorite among these people is Miss Agatha McGee, who like me is a traditionalist. She is a Catholic sc
Richda Mcnutt
Oct 04, 2015 Richda Mcnutt rated it really liked it
Such a deceptively simple book - with writing and characters that are the opposite of ornate, fussy, pretentious. A week in the life of a 35-year-old bachelor high school teacher, which also encompasses his life. We become acquainted with his friends, his students, and the plain grace that he extends to all of them. Many of the situations are humorous - until they're not. A book with more depth than you expect from the writing style and everyday situations - very satisfying.
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Jon Hassler was born in Minneapolis, but spent his formative years in the small Minnesota towns of Staples and Plainview, where he graduated from high school. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from St. John's University in 1955. While teaching English at three different Minnesota high schools, he received his Master of Arts degree in English from the University of North Dakota in ...more
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“ami there sat Carla.” 0 likes
“He regarded his briefcase. It was full of student papers—114 essays entitled “What I Wish.” He had been putting off reading them for over a week. He opened the briefcase, then paused, reluctant to look inside. How many student papers had he read in these twelve years? How many strokes of his red pen had he made? How many times had he underlined it’s and written its. Was there ever a student who didn’t make a mischievous younger brother the subject of an essay? Was there ever a student who didn’t make four syllables out of “mischievous”? This was the twelfth in a series of senior classes that Miles was trying to raise to an acceptable level of English usage, and like the previous eleven, this class would graduate in the spring to make room for another class in the fall, and he would read the same errors over again. This annual renewal of ignorance, together with the sad fact that most of his students had been drilled in what he taught since they were in the fifth grade, left him with a vague sense of futility that made it hard for him to read student writing. But while he had lost his urge to read student papers, he had not lost his guilt about not reading them, so he carried around with him, like a conscience...” 0 likes
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