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Preview — The Amalgamation Polka by Stephen Wright
The Amalgamation Polka
Born in 1844 in bucolic upstate New York, Liberty Fish is the son of fervent abolitionists as well as the grandson of Carolina slaveholders even more dedicated to their cause. Thus follows a chil ...more
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Both the Real Thing and A Merciless Parody, 1 Feb 2007
"Wright's title refers to a racist editorial cartoon of the period, which depicted "an amalgamation polka," where whites and blacks dance together in genteel costumes. This was meant to suggest, one presumes, that other mutually enjoyable physical activities might occur between the races later in the evening. Race mixing was the great shibboleth of slavery advocates and segregationists from the dawn of American history almost to our own tim ...more
The plot takes place between the 1840's through The Civil War, which is presented both through Northern and Southern eyes. People often think of that war starting with the firing upon Fort Sumter, but the fig ...more
Race relations before and during the civil war.
Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a bright star in the literary sky,” Stephen Wright now extends his astonishing accomplishment with a Civil War novel unlike any other.
Born in 1844 in bucolic upstate New York, Liberty Fish is the son of fervent abolitionists as well as the grandson of Carolina slaveholders even more dedicated to their cause. Thus follows a childhood limned with fugitive slaves moving through hidden passageways in t ...more
After Liberty h ...more
Liberty's experiences on the battlefield not weighed down by usua ...more
i really liked the way he appropriated certain stylistic aspects of 19th century literature--most prominently baroque, complex sentences/paragraphs in a way ...more
Is it a curse or a blessing that the work of idiosyncratically original writers prompts the most divisive reviews? There's no preordained slot for Steven Wright (Going Native; Meditations in Green), so his fictions have to be read with an open mind and, perhaps, a predisposition for his "dark, hallucinatory world" (New York Times). The main point of dissension centers on whether Wright has balanced the strains of parody and the grotesque carefully enough. Critics also disagree about whether the...more
Two scenes specifically come to mind as being exceptional: Liberty's experiences of battle and his dialogues with Maur ...more
However, all the verbage - while unique, exquisitely correct, and often beautiful - serves to obfuscate the story rather than elucidate it. The story also seems a bit thin and is not particularly compelling.
I'm glad I read this book, but it's not one that I'll likely find myself ...more
"And it’s about America, which Wright understands — more so than even Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo, to whom he is often compared — as a collective state of delusion, a vicious, exciting and insane society poisoned at the root by the outrageous lies it has told itself. "
OK now I have finished it. I really liked this book strange as it was. The story took a back seat for me to the author's writing style - which was terrific! (Unlike MY writing in this comment!)
The prose is beautiful, if sometimes a little overwrought.
It's a Faulknerian romp through the civil war, with a decidedly contemporary sensibility. It's funny, hyperbolic, and spot-on in some of its observations and fascinations. But it's the sort of book you'd write about in your dissertation because it's interesting, not because it moved you.