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The End

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  600 ratings  ·  153 reviews
A brilliant debut novel about a single day in 1953 as lived by six people at an Ohio carnival

A small, incongruous man receives an excruciating piece of news. His son has died in a POW camp in Korea. It is August 15, 1953, the day of a tumultuous street carnival in Elephant Park, an Italian immigrant enclave in Ohio. The man is Rocco LaGrassa, and his many years of dogged l
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by Graywolf Press
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Average rating 3.38  · 
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 ·  600 ratings  ·  153 reviews

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I imagine, and this book gives permission to imagine, in the sense of cogitate, that if Scibona were asked who he was writing for, he might say, for his characters, or for the previous generations who may have inspired those characters, or maybe for the real-life place that inspired his multi-stranded yet singularly focused story, or for himself.
I would be surprised if he said that the reader was foremost in his mind as he was writing.
That's a pity. I think the writer of a novel, as opposed to
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Oh, if only there were another star to give this book. Six stars--that's my rating. I don't mean to raise expectations, but even if I do, The End is going to exceed them. This book accomplishes what I suppose all my favorite books do, maybe what every good book will do, and that is it provides you with a new way of experiencing the world. I'm walking around seeing things differently; I'm a new kind of observer of places and people and the things they do for having spent time with this book. That ...more
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers who want to know the world in its noisy entirety
Recommended to John by: received the book for review
My God, the sentences of Signore Scibona! Constructions hard-headed yet lovely, precise yet inventive: "Night, for children, was more a place than a time." And: "…Lina was a child. She lacked the natural cruelty that a conversance with the marital act encouraged one to refine." And: "The city was a mammoth trash heap -- even the lake was brown -- but it was an honorable place. It put pretty to one side." THE END is a debut novel -- a runner-up for the current Nat'l Book Award -- and it has a lot ...more
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This novel haunted me for weeks. It takes place across the span of several decades, weaving forward and back from a single day in 1953 in Elephant Park, Ohio, in an immigrant neighborhood, and tracking multiple characters who are as doomed as any of the characters in L'Inferno. ...more
I keep wondering how to rate this and how to feel about it and I'm conflicted. On one hand, I like the idea of a theme being the connection to the story like a symphony, but on the other it felt so disjointed and pointless. Somethings tied together too neatly and others are thrown in with no relevance or conclusion. On one hand, some of the writing is beautiful and thought-provoking and on the other all that introspection with no character development. We never understand anything about the char ...more
Justin Evans
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I remember reading in a review of Bellow's letters the idea that some writers can craft remarkable sentences, but can't write a paragraph to save their life. I guess you can broaden that theme: some people can write a great statements, but not much in the way of dialogue. Scibona is clearly a sentence and statement guy. Part of this is because this book is so overwhelmingly narrated as interior monologue. If he'd made it too ordered or comprehensible, some people would complain that it was unrea ...more
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
One of five finalists for The 2008 National Book Award, The End is an impressive debut whose serpentine plot hovers around a single tumultuous moment during a Catholic street carnival held in an Italian-American enclave of 1953 Cleveland. Amidst a backdrop of racial tensions, poverty and immigration, this pivotal moment ties together the beautifully developed characters who makes up this highly psychological drama: There's Rocco, the town baker, who has just received word that his son has perish ...more
Aug 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Full disclosure: Salvatore is a friend, and we wrote letters during the time he was working on this novel, and he included one of my own childhood habits confessed in one of these letters in the pages of the manuscript, so that, in a small way, I am *in this novel*. It is very exciting. When I read the passage, my heart pounded a little. So of course I'm not an objective reader, but then, who is? This is a gorgeous novel. It seems much too wise for a debut, but it was in the works for a long tim ...more
Oct 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1940s1950s
Despite the fact that this book was written in an accomplished and unique voice, I did not enjoy reading it. To me, it was frustrating and unnecessarily opaque.
Let me defend those 3 stars, starting with a little backstory.

Recently I was following this thread on a livejournal blog and there were several people debating the validity of Young Adult books as suitable fiction for adults. “Can’t you find enjoyable books that aren’t made for 14-year-olds?” someone asked. Now, I’ve read and loved plenty of non-YA stuff, my literary canvas is very all-encompassing, however, it is true that I read quite a lot of YA as well. So thank goodness for the blogger who
Nov 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-group
This is another one of those books that defies the star rating. Scibona takes writing to the level of true art, and for that The End is fascinating and intriguing. However, reading it is difficult. It challenges perceptions, and forces the reader to take an entirely new approach to following story and narrative structure.

The main reason for this is that there really is no narrative structure. The characters and their lives, the causes and effects, do not carry the story toward its conclusion. In
As I should have guessed in this National Book Award Finalist entitled The End, the end actually occurs several times (from various perspectives) in the middle of the book, and the end is actually not an end at all, and leads me to question why I felt so unsatisfied when finally reaching this end that is not an end. There is a reason that the end comes at the end, and god bless it the experiments in structure and form, I still want an end at the end. Scibona is talented in creating character and ...more
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
What did I just read? Seriously, what did I just read? I don't even know how to feel about The End.
First off, the blurb is a little misleading, it might be a single day through the eyes of 6 different characters, but not really. The actual day itself was almost a footnote to the story. The time line is confusing, and if you have to tell me it's the same day in the blurb, then maybe a better job of conveying it's the same day would have been helpful, especially since there were a lot of other day
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
The End is a thick, textured and poetic novel featuring a connected group of Italian immigrants in the mid 20th century. The writing is beautiful, mysterious and dreamlike. However Scibona leaves the writing too cerebral and obfuscating (vocab word for you!) throughout the first segment of the book. The reader feels isolated, looked down on and utterly unwelcome in the story. After the first third of the book the poetry remains but the details behind it become clearer, but by this point the read ...more
Michael Shilling
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Needs to be read slow. Maps the mythic weave that constructs certain American identities. No I'm not sure what that means either but it feels right to say. A WOW of a book. ...more
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
could not get into it, no matter how hard i tried. i was very interested in it from reviews i read but then i could not get into it, kinda like a bad lover you have the hots for.
Robert Wechsler
I was very taken with the first section of this novel, but the characters and, increasingly, the prose of the rest of the sections up to the middle didn’t interest me enough to continue.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Phil by: Paula Miller, Dinah Coble
Before I recommend The End to you I need to know if you’re a plodder or a skimmer. What goes on with you as you lose yourself in fiction? Do you savor dense, poetic prose? Do you admire the writer’s craft of a writers’ writer? Do you enjoy reading Kafka, Joyce, Conrad, or Faulkner? If so, dive in and swim through The End.
Read it for its structure, with sub-plots spinning forth from a single afternoon in a single neighborhood yet spanning more than half a century and two continents. All the tange
📚Linda Blake
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
There probably is some real wisdom in The End, but I got lost in the date changes, character switching, and all the esoterica. I suppose this structure, that is, no structure, was meant to imitate life, but I found it confusing. Most of the time I didn’t know whose voice I was hearing, where the story was physically, or what year and time it was. Maybe I’m not enough of a discerning reader to grasp the brilliance of this book. 🤷🏽‍♀️
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
So far, fantastic. It hovers and moves in whorls. It's a bit like staring at a dam--same lingering, same mesmerism. ...more
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Writing style made this a challenging read, but I enjoyed setting, and strange characters. Elephant Park, OH is a fictional name for Murray Hill, Cleveland's Little Italy. ...more
May 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Really hard to read at times. I was often unsure who was speaking and what the problem at hand really was. Lots of going back and forth in conversations. I was kind of lost. 2.5 out of 5
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Cumbersome and convoluted, unnecessarily so.
Oct 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Didn't really like it. Boring. I ended up listening to most of it just to get through... ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I would describe the book as author Sciboni writing about several immigrant characters. But I read the
Description of the Book
on Goodreads, as I was clicking it as Currently Reading, and they write everything about what the author was trying to do, in their opinion, things I would not have figured out half of the book, but I would have kept reading because the writing was interesting, for me, one particular reader. They did like this--here's my fake description of the book, for Misery, by Stephe
David Scarbeary-Simmons
May 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book started out with promise, but after the first two chapters it was unclear how the author would tie the characters he introduced me to. The story follows a baker who is estranged from his wife, a neighboring widow, a husband whose wife has left him for an unexplained reason, and his well as some other minor characters that almost get the suspense level up. However, when the last page was read the author had failed to resolve a number of plot points. Very frustrating to get to t ...more
Robert L.
Oct 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Judging from this and The Volunteer, Scibona writes books that require effort and involvement. Both novels have a theme of adult children rejecting parents. Hmmn. I like the way he begins characters at different points and has them intersect toward the end of the book. No big climaxes at the end, just life going on, or not. Not a fun read, but challenging. I may try a third story from him.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, here's another book that I didn't/couldn't finish. Reading it was like watching some existential movie where nothing tied together. The first sentence is wonderful, so I had great hopes for the book. But. it went sideways from there. I just didn't feel like working that hard to follow whatever point(s) the author was trying to make. ...more
Amanda Valenti
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Absolutely lovely writing, but the process of revealing the interconnections among the characters, and the cores of their respective stories, comes across as one of those put-your-money-down shell games with an inordinate number of shells and not enough beans.
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He is an award-winning American novelist and short-story writer. He has won awards for both his novels and short stories, and was selected in 2010 as one of The New Yorker "Fiction Writers to Watch: 20 under 40" ...more

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