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Staggerford

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  1,228 ratings  ·  120 reviews
"A writer good enough to restore your faith in fiction."
THE NEW YORK TIMES
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
...more
Paperback, 341 pages
Published June 23rd 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published 1977)
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Thierry Sagnier This is a wonderful book and Hassler is one of the best, largely unknown, writers around. He died a few years ago. I have everything he's written and…moreThis is a wonderful book and Hassler is one of the best, largely unknown, writers around. He died a few years ago. I have everything he's written and read them all two or three times. Highly recommend, and hope you enjoy it!(less)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,385)
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Malaya
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
Keith
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
Barry
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
...more
Scott D.
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
...more
Mmars
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
Dianne
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
...more
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
...more
Thierry Sagnier
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.
Nancy
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.
Tim
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
Elizabeth
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
Jane Mackay
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.
Carolyn
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
Rufusgermanicus Meelberg
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
Patti
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
El
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
...more
John
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
...more
Martie Nees Record
The protagonist is a 35 year old male high school teacher in a rural Minnesota town. The entire book revolves around just one week of his life. The novel affectionately satirizes academia and small-town living; there is lots of lemonade and raspberry sundaes. At first all characters seemed too quirky to be real. By the end of the book I saw them as ordinary people sympathizing with their struggles, their failures and their successes. An utterly charming as well as deeply poignant read.
Lianne
Jul 13, 2011 Lianne added it
Don't know how it happened but I've never previously encountered any of Jon Hassler's series about Staggerford, a Minnesota town not unlike Lake Wobegon. This is the first of the series published in 1974. Its major character is Miles, a thirty-five year old high school teacher who is in love with his boss's wife and settling into bachelorhood. The plot covers an eventful week in the life of the school. Miles boards with a semi retired parochial school teacher, named Miss Mc Gee, who becomes an u ...more
Matthew
This is Hassler's first book, and an interesting one. I enjoyed it, but am torn between 3 and 4 stars.

It takes place over 6 or 7 days in Staggerford, a small town I believe to be in Western or Northern Minnesota. Its a nice town, but full of all the troubles of the 70's. The story revolves around the hometown high school english teacher.

It starts very slowly, with the pace of a portait painter from before the camera era. By the third day you start to care for the characters and by late in the f
...more
Spiros
Apr 14, 2011 Spiros rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those in search of an amiable book
Recommended to Spiros by: Hungry George
Shelves: bookhouse
An amiable book. I know nothing of the author, Jon Hassler; but on the evidence of this novel, I am willing to postulate an English Literature major, who focused on Trollope. He certainly likes to give each of his characters longwinded speeches, some of which, particularly those of the the officious and ineffectual school principal, Wayne Workman, are quite amusing. This novel came out in 1974 but, aside from references to the American Indian Movement, and boys with long hair, it lacks any '70's ...more
Amanda
A quiet, slow-paged book. It goes along for chapter after chapter of meticulous description of the lives of the people that live in the small town of Staggerford.
I do not want to spoil this book for anyone so I won't say too much. Just that the writing is beautiful and you begin to care for the people of the community. They have small and ordinary lives but are interesting in their ordinariness. It makes the sudden surprise towards the end so shocking. I guess that's how these things are in real
...more
Agnes
Quite an interesting story of teachers and small community in late 60s early 70s, when I was beginning my career. Several characters hit home wth their personalities, especialy administrators.
Very unexpectd ending.

Hadn't heard of this author before, but would like to find more by him. He is now deceased.
Louise
This is a great small town saga, ridiculous, funny and unexpectedly tragic. I love books written in the 70s, there's something so homey and comforting about them. People just don't write books in this style any more, which is a shame. Maybe it's the style but it reminded me of 'The World According to Garp'. Excited to have belatedly discovered this author and look forward to reading more of his work.
Marne Wilson
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did I was hooked and finished it quickly. Although the setting in the mid-70's is just a little bit before my time, this book captured the nuances of small town life on the prairie very well. It reminded me very much of Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman. I hear the later books Hassler wrote about Staggerford aren't up to quite the same level, but I'm willing to try more of his other writings in the future.
Daniel
Life in rural Minnesota is explored for one week, focusing on the events happening to one high school English teacher.

I really enjoyed reading this novel, it had a sense of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon. If it never achieved the status of Lake Wobegon mythos, it's because the writing is just slightly uneven -- enough to prevent it from reaching best-seller status.

It's also quite possible that I enjoyed this more because I live in a small town, not un-like Staggerford, and was able to identify
...more
Victoria Murata
I liked this book. the writing is good, and I could identify with the problems of a teacher in a small Minnesota town.
Diane Lenarz
Wonderful, read all Hasslers books and wish he were still alive to write more.

Elliott Foster
One of the best works of fiction ever written by a Minnesota author.
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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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