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Shadow Play

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  297 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Without question Charles Baxter, whose ravishing novel The Feast of Love was a National Book Award finalist, is one of our finest contemporary writers. These two books, set in the Michigan landscape that Baxter has made his own, display his unparalleled gift for revealing the unexpected in everyday life. In the novel Shadow Play, a decent man, having made a "devil's bargai ...more
400 pages
Published September 28th 2001 by Norton (first published 1993)
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Read The Feast Of Love first. Even if you find this one first because I give it to you or you buy it while Nico is standing you up at the Strand or you find it for a dollar or in a public place.

I don't want to review this book. I want to grade it. I would like to say something like "excellent work, to-date," because that's what all of my professors put on all of my papers because they don't have anything thoughtful to say and they don't want to get into the whole trouble of it.

I, however, being
Ben Loory
Sep 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
i don't generally read or like contemporary fiction because it's all so dryly realistic. it's like everyone has swallowed the scientific worldview wholesale without, of course, understanding the least thing about it, other than the fact that everything must be obvious and boring. and even when writers try to move into the world of myth, feeling and imagination, they can't do it without hedging their bets with irony and intellectual distance. I HATE IT.

this book is not like that, and i loved it.
Janet Gardner
Oct 17, 2014 rated it liked it
It’s hard for me to rate this novel. I started out loving it, but by the end I was impatient to be done with it. We look in on the life of the protagonist, Wyatt, as an eight-year-old boy trying to run away from his eccentric family, as a young college student falling in love with the woman who will become his wife, and as a young-ish civil servant and family man who finds himself navigating difficult moral waters when his various responsibilities to family and community come into conflict. The ...more
Robert Wechsler
Apr 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: american-lit
Another well-written novel that didn’t quite make it. Part of the problem is his sensibility, which is a bit quirky for me, but this is also one of his charms. I made it through the novel, but I could have put it down at any point. One thing that attracted me was that the main character is an assistant city manager, but there is almost nothing about what he does. And what is billed as an ethical challenge – a chemical factory that causes serious health problems for employees, but not neighbors – ...more
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Yes, this is an early Baxter novel. And yes, it's not as concrete as his later works. Maybe that's why I am so drawn to this one. The mystical/esoteric nature of it is compelling as it goes beyond just telling a story. The writing is strong, the ideas are well beyond the pale. Why should a novel simply tell us a story? Why shouldn't it tell us more about us? About life? About the universe? About the possible and the impossible? Baxter may never make the best-seller lists - a great reason to read ...more
Sep 21, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
On loan from Steph ... not sure how I feel about it ... there are times when I wonder where is this going and why am I even bothering to read on and others (like this morning, over halfway through) where I thought, man this is getting good. Then tonight, 2/3 of the way through, past that high part and debating whether or not to continue. Not sure I'll ever finish - may just skim over the last part and see if I feel the need to read the remainder in full or if I'm satisfied with just the skim.
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't stop thinking about the "Tree of Life" while i was reading the novel. Wyatt's character is excellent based on his fathers short time in the novel. Strong women characters, with Ellen being the mother not only to all the children, but the mother of the whole story. A book that shows what happens when you don't grow up like your suppose too, but a life that has full of depth none the same.
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
definitely pales in comparison to the rest of Baxter's oeuvre-- it's a very early book of his tho, so illuminating just to see how his work evolves. it's got the heart & poignance of his later stuff, however awkwardness of scenes & plot-moves & dialogue that feel more novice. i'm definitely plodding along w/ this one tho.
May 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love Charlie Baxter's short stories and just started reading his novels. His language is so beautiful that the plot almost doesn't matter. If you haven't already read "Gryphon," his hilarious short story about a crazy substitute teacher, you can find it in "Through the Safety Net." My 11-year old daughter loves it.
Mar 07, 2008 rated it liked it
This was book was part of my getting to know CB. I remember the book itself didn't put me over the top, but in terms of getting to know an was with this book I realized CB's work was something significant for me. And, it should be noted, no one evokes the midwest as well as him.
Aug 25, 2008 rated it liked it
A good solid read, but not my favorite Charles Baxter.
Jun 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Memorable characters, interesting story. Builds slowly and follows through. Felt a little like I'd heard the story before is why four and a half and not five stars...
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just loved this book...Baxter's style is poetic, spiritual, quirky and thought-provoking
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it
This book starts slowly, moves slowly and devolves into nonsense. I found it increasing difficult to read and was disappointed in the ending.
Aug 22, 2009 rated it liked it
A recommendation from my friend, Grayce. Reminded me of The World According to Garp at times. Great character development. The ending didn't quite satisfy, but a good read overall.
Nov 07, 2008 added it
Not as good as Updike, but Baxter writes weirdly compelling characters. Just don't pick this up if you are looking for a "keep me up till 3 AM so I can finish it" kind of read.
Jan 12, 2013 added it
Book Discussion Book
Tim Lepczyk
I'm a fan of Charles Baxter; however, this was not a good book. It was boring and a little two-dimensional. I remember just hitting this point and being extremely dissapointed.
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
May 2002
Lisa Cantrell
rated it really liked it
Dec 01, 2009
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Dec 27, 2011
Benjamin Roberts
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Aug 20, 2008
rated it it was amazing
Feb 08, 2011
rated it it was ok
Jun 06, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Jan 04, 2009
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Oct 27, 2007
Lorin Fries
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Feb 19, 2016
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Jun 24, 2011
Chris Cander
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Feb 04, 2011
Laura Wolfson
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Mar 29, 2015
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Book Review 1 2 Oct 04, 2011 04:14PM  
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Charles Baxter was born in Minneapolis and graduated from Macalester College, in Saint Paul. After completing graduate work in English at the State University of New York at Buffalo, he taught for several years at Wayne State University in Detroit. In 1989, he moved to the Department of English at the University of Michigan--Ann Arbor and its MFA program. He now teaches at the University of Minnes ...more
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