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Love and Shame and Love

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3.35  ·  Rating details ·  623 ratings  ·  126 reviews
Alexander Popper can't stop remembering. Four years old when his father tossed him into Lake Michigan, he was told, Sink or swim, kid. In his mind, he's still bobbing in that frigid water. The rest of this novel's vivid cast of characters also struggle to remain afloat: Popper's mother, stymied by an unhappy marriage, seeks solace in the relentless energy of Chicago; his ...more
Hardcover, 439 pages
Published November 7th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
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 ·  623 ratings  ·  126 reviews


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Lolly K Dandeneau
Nov 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
I know, here I go again not liking a novel with good reviews. I won't go into detail about this novel, just explain why I didn't like it.
The writing didn't flow for me. I hated the break up on each page or so. It prevented a flow I prefer in my reading. It felt choppy. It was like hitting every red light on a straight, very long road. The first few pages I thought.. yes, this is good. Then it all just plummeted for me.
It isn't that the writing is bad, it's actually well written, it just does
...more
Ammie
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Generational stories are rife in literature, from "One Hundred Years of Solitude" up to "Middlesex" and Oscar Wao. So ho-hum, you could say, here are three generations of the Popper family, growing up in and around Chicago, going off to war and work and college, getting married and divorced and pregnant; what is there that might be new to see here? What can you tell me that is different from what all of these other writers have told me?

That could go poorly for any author, but luckily for Peter
...more
Jill
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Love and Shame and Love is, at its loving and shameful heart, a Chicago book. An unabashedly my-kind-of-town Chicago book. And as a Chicagoan, I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone who wasn’t from Chicago could possibly catch all the nuances.

Take these lines, for example: “Lunches in the Walnut Room at the Bismarck Hotel. Long dinners with their beautiful wives at Gene & Georgetti or Mike Fish’s. Black-tie nights at the opera, Puccini on the Plains.” The Mayor makes his appearance and Harold
...more
Janet
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: us-fiction
For me, shame but not love. Shame that I clearly missed whatever it was that has other readers stampeding to give it 5 stars.

Spread out among three generations of the Popper family – four if you count Ella who attains the ripe old age of 6 by novel’s end – the story jump cuts back and forth in staccato vignettes ranging from one to four pages. Despite each voice being unique I found it hard to get my bearings – like being at the ophthalmologist with the rapid switching of various lenses and
...more
Telaina
Dec 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: rumpus
I honestly didn't know what to rate this book. It was so beautifully rendered in places and had so much truth in parts that I feel like it deserved four or five stars. But in the end I felt Orner kept us at a distance from the characters and I wasn't emotionally invested in any of them. They were each so miserable in their own way that it gave me no chance to discern between the generations. The beautiful mini chapter at the Tom Petty concert, the few paragraphs about Dukakis and some of the ...more
Angie
Feb 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I almost gave up on this book several times, but I'm glad I stuck with it to the end. This is the story of several generations of the Popper family. Instead of the sweeping epic you might expect, it's told in short bursts, collections of small, mostly ordinary moments among ordinary people. Most of the big events that happen to the family occur offstage or are referenced obliquely. Some of the set pieces are so well-done that minor characters--a music teacher, an old-boys-club judge--are more ...more
Anna Pulley
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I usually write in all my books, but couldn’t bring myself to do so in Peter Orner’s Love and Shame and Love. It seemed wrong somehow, like taking a Sharpie to someone’s family photo album. Tightly crafted, both in language and structure, Orner’s chapters don’t speak so much as sting. Even when the narrative slaloms back and forth through time and point of view, the shotgun pace keeps you deeply wedded to the characters, their struggles, their almost triumphs. His lyrical, melancholic ...more
Lindsey
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Stands out as one of the more challenging and interesting books I've read lately. Several elements (multi-generational story/strife, the Midwest, immigrant culture) recall Middlesex, yet the book manages to remain original. How does Orner do this? Through the vignette-structured narrative. I waffled for along time on whether or not I liked this non-arc narrative arc; ultimately I came down solidly on the "Yes" side. It has about as much arc as our own lives do, and--ultimately--that is its ...more
Dayna Ingram
Peter Orner's sentences are beautiful. This is my favorite sentence of the whole book: "Nobody is more determined than a person running away"(p.411). I fully believe that Orner rewrote each sentence in this book at least once in order to get it sounding just right.

Like The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, Love and Shame and Love is told in "episodes." I don't think this technique works as well here; it took me a while to get situated in the multi-threaded narrative. I love the letters from
...more
A.
Dec 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love line drawings in novels. No one seems to do it anymore. It was good enough for Dickens, but today's writers don't think they need a few good good pen & ink drawings to move the story along. Orner's book is adorned with beautiful simple drawings at the beginning of each chapter. Many of them are of houses and rooms one is of dead fish washed up on the shore of Lake Michigan. Eric Orner (his brother?) did the drawings and the distinctive cover art.

Orner is trodding upon Bellow territory
...more
Christoph Fischer
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Love and Shame and Love" by Peter Orner is another excellent piece by a very talented writer.
In these snippets, stories and letters about the wider Popper family and Alexander Popper in particular chronology and causality are often eluded in favour of a more impressionist montage of the family history and their bond with each other.

Due to the mother's unhappiness the family moves to Chicago and large parts of the novel feature on the Jewish experience in post-WWII Chicago. As a matter of fact,
...more
Kasa Cotugno
This epic novel follows four generations of the Popper family, a Jewish Chicago clan of alternating distinction and normality. It is constructed as if it were one of those drawers into which you have randomly tossed letters, mementos, pictures, matchbook covers -- we all have drawers like that. So that when you delve down into it, your memory is jogged and you are taken back to that time, that place. The story weaves together and all the characters and eras come alive. Chicago itself plays as ...more
Alvin
Dec 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This novel is composed of vignettes and snippets, like a literary mosaic, which is perfect for those of us with impaired attention spans! It contains an amazing sense of place; the city of Chicago looms throughout. It is above all, though, a family saga, and as we get to know the characters (and they are characters in every sense of the word) and learn their dynamics, we see patterns that weave into the civic history permeating the book. Though few characters die off, there is no real conclusion ...more
Sunny Shore
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book after thinking I was giving up on it last year. It is a multi-generational story, but different than all I've read. It's basically like real life....photos from an album through the written word. The Poppers are an interesting bunch, but no different than any other family. But to hear Peter Orner tell it, it's unique.
Rachel
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Insightful, beautifully written family saga-in-snippets. The narrative functions much in the same way memory does, in seemingly disconnected vignettes that slowly assemble themselves into a multifaceted collage.
Ian Alexander
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book doesn't just pick at the scabs, it peels them off. Granted, I am a Jewish lawyer raising a family in Highland Park. Reminds me of Phillip Roth's work in all the best ways. Orner is a beautiful writer. Sad in but in the happiest possible way. A must read.
Carol Woodard
Jan 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
I didn't finish this book...I don't care what the nuns told us in grade school, I just couldn't do it. I think this might be a good book but I didn't like the style of writing...very disjointed and quirky.
Melissa
Nov 08, 2011 marked it as to-read
I am not sure about this one, but I am intrigued...."....Peter Orner illuminates the countless ways that love both makes us whole and completely unravels us."
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
UGH! Contemporary novelists should never try to channel Richard Brautigan.
Arielle Levitan
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great writing and so much fun to read about HP
Kurt
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not even finished the first half of this book and I am feeling some serious author jealousy. Peter Orner has an unparalleled precision with his language. It seems closer to a collection of flash fiction into a novel, but the snippets we receive are exquisite examples and ultimately tie together beautifully. My wife has asked that I stop interrupting whatever she is doing to read to her from this book. I have to buy another copy because I am barely resisting the temptation to mark up the copy I ...more
Kang-Chun Cheng
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
i wish i had gotten more out of this book. it's long, one review compared it to an epic. the poetic bits woven in between make it worth it, the attention to small moments that stick out, just as they do in memory. orner's piece in modern love is one of my all-time favourites, i go back and reread it every couple of months. there's the same sensitivity in his writing here, but i'm probably too frazzled to get the most out of it now.
Trina
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A novel in very short stories. Glimpses really. The Popper family, but after while mostly about Chicago. The city, the Loop, the Lake, the North Shore, the South Side, Mayor Daly. The chapters/stories glitter with little telling details. A bit confusing, this big family with several generations, but continually interesting.
Sadie
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe it's just me, but this book was quite boring. I forced myself to finish it. The chapters are short, which I usually do well with, but I found it hard to get through anyway. The book lacks cohesion, making its potential lost on me.
Abbí
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A novel built slowly, like all the best things are. Stories of people built two pages at a time. I'll be back for more from this author.
Lisa Buckalew
Loved at first but kind of long. And got a little dark. Really like his writing style.
Barbara M
Interesting
Sam
May 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
Utterly incoherent
Emily
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
It isn’t enough to have great sentences, Orner. They have to make sense together.
Jaime Boler
Dec 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mobile-press
Family Feasts, Family Feuds: Peter Orner's Love and Shame and Love
By Jaime Boler


Love and Shame and Love by Peter Orner (Little, Brown and Company; 448 pages; $24.99).

Who can we count on to applaud our successes more than our families? Who do we make prouder by our accomplishments than those with whom we share blood ties? And yet who besides our families do we disappoint more by our failures? Who can we shame more than those closest to us? Just in time for the holidays is Peter Orner's novel
...more
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Peter Orner was born in Chicago and is the author of three novels: Esther Stories (Houghton Mifflin, 2001), The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo (Little, Brown, 2006), and his most recent, Love and Shame and Love (Little, Brown, 2011) which was recently called epic by Daniel Handler, "...epic like Gilgamesh, epic like a guitar solo." (Orner has since bought Gilgamesh and is enjoying it.) Love and ...more
“Chicago does not go to the world, the world comes to Chicago! Who needs New York? Who has taller buildings than our tall buildings? Who's got a busier airport than our airport? You want Picasso? We got Picasso, big Picasso. Nobody can make heads or tails of it. It's a lion? No, a seahorse. Looks to me like a radiator with wings. Who gives a damn, people, a Picasso's a Picasso.” 6 likes
“The lake is always east. East is always the lake. Anywhere else he's ever been he never knows where he is.” 2 likes
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