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Ducks, Newburyport

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,312 ratings  ·  468 reviews
LATTICING one cherry pie after another, an Ohio housewife tries to bridge the gaps between reality and the torrent of meaningless info that is the United States of America. She worries about her children, her dead parents, African elephants, the bedroom rituals of “happy couples”, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and how to hatch an abandoned wood pigeon egg. Is there some ...more
Paperback, UK Limited Edition of 500 copies, 1022 pages
Published July 4th 2019 by Galley Beggar Press
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Anne There is plenty of punctuation, but the main narrative does not contain any full stops.

If Ellmann had been a man, would you have made a remark similar…more
There is plenty of punctuation, but the main narrative does not contain any full stops.

If Ellmann had been a man, would you have made a remark similar to ''miss little clever clogs''? (less)

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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  1,312 ratings  ·  468 reviews


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MJ Nicholls
That fact that this is a 1000-page novel in the form of a list of an Ohio homemaker/baker’s anxieties and neuroses, the fact that across these intoxicating and scathing and fear-scorched pages the whole of contemporary America is encapsulated, the fact that a semicolon is never once wielded for the whole production, the fact that the housewife represents the lost moral conscience of an amoral nation, that fact that she refers to the ass as the sit-me-down-upon, the fact that reading this novel ...more
Neil
Now re-read after its longlisting for the Booker Prize (I've re-read all the three books which I rated 5-stars). Re-reading this one was an unusual experience because my wife was reading it at the same time, although she was about 700 pages ahead of me. Well, she was when I started - I had it down to 300 pages when she finished.

I completely understand why some people dislike this book. I also completely understand why some people (me included) love it. It has an internal rhythm to it that either
...more
Hugh
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019
Deserved Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2019

This is a brave, unique and ambitious book, so full credit to Galley Beggar press for stepping in where Lucy Ellmann's previous publishers baulked, and giving it such wholehearted support. Having spent a week reading it intensely, I feel that this is a book that entirely justifies their faith in it.

The core of the book is an interior monologue, written as a single run-on sentence that is unbroken throughout most of
...more
Fionnuala
Thoughts at p 50 of Ducks, Newburyport

This seems to be one of those books that make me stop in my reading tracks and think about how I read, as in what's going on in my mind as my eyes glide left to right across the page then return left before sliding right again like an old fashioned typewriter, though of course my eyes are not typewriters but type readers, and very experienced ones having focused on billions of typed words in their lifetime. But have they really focused clearly on all the
...more
Gumble's Yard
the fact this won the 2019 Goldsmith prize, Golden Syrup, Golden Retriever

the fact that this is shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize, shortlist, shortbread

the fact that this is longlisted for the 2019 booker prize, longlisted, longleat, lions of longleat, mountain lion

the fact that madeleines are like little memory sticks, but when you bite into one you get closure, the fact that all her life that mountain lion has been alone and free and unnamed, and now she has a name and she’s not free
...more
Meike
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, 2019-read, 2019-booker, uk
Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2019 *sigh*
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2019

This book has a hypnotizing effect, as it relentlessly rambles on and on and on in what is NOT a stream-of-consciousness or, God forbid, one sentence. No one in their right mind has a train of thought like this midwestern housewife, the language is more like an artificial, highly associative, playful collage of memories, thoughts, songs, names, and terms, like a psychological implicit-association test that has
...more
Marchpane
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That's great it starts with an earthquake
Pies and cakes and tardigrades
Sentence breaks are seldom made

Try to nuke a hurricane, watch the Amazon burn
Hell’s an endless news feed, Youtube Morning Routines
‘Suck in your gut’, Spaghetti-Os, hens.
Then Laura Ingalls Wilder with a hoop skirt, upskirt
Concertina wire, cougar cubs, Ohio days
And ‘a success or a failure’ and this mom’s uptight
That’s her, barely coping, all her worries,
Thousand pages, breathing down your neck

Day-by-day reporters baffled,
...more
Paul Fulcher
The book responsible for my most annoying reading experience of 2019 wins my favourite prize ...

I have a lot of respect for Galley Beggar, and admire them for having the courage to publish such an ambitious novel. My review is going to be a little unfair, but there are plenty of reviews here that present only the positive sides of this novel, and I can’t honestly say I enjoyed this in the slightest.

It’s tempting, as many have, to review in the (too easily?) imitated style of the book but having
...more
Vit Babenco
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sad satirical novel Ducks, Newburyport is built on contrasts: Lucy Ellmann compares and opposes the life of a harassed housewife – a product of modern civilization – to the life of a lioness – an innocent product of nature…
Alertness was her new mode, but the cubs’ easy slumber was contagious. She was always briefly astounded, on waking, by their continued presence. They troubled her, they were so needy: if she died, they would die too, and soon. And she would forget them. But for now, she
...more
Lee Klein
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Two temptations when writing about a book like this: the first is to imitate its “crazee” infectious style, adopt its motifs, and in this case start every phrase with “the fact that,” and the second is to translate it into something more conventional, excavate its characters and plot, stripping away all disorientation, themes, and exaggerated logorrhea.

Generally, I loved this for the first few hundred pages, thinking of it like a modern Midwestern Molly Bloom soliloquy (complete with a husband
...more
Manny
The fact that after the second page it's just one long run-on sentence, sentence first, verdict after, afternoon tea, tea for two, Frère Jacques, row row row your boat merrily down the stream, stream of consciousness, consciousness explained, not, Not was going to read it first but I beat her to it, you can beat an egg, you can beat a donkey, but you can't beat Ducks, Newburyport, the fact that there's a second thread hardly anyone mentions, the fact that it's also quite engaging to read about ...more
Eric Anderson
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will sometimes enthusiastically purchase long novels with the best intentions of reading them soon but nonetheless they’ll typically remain on my shelf for many years before I get to them. But I was strongly tempted by the description of Lucy Ellmann’s monumental “Ducks, Newburyport” and its Booker Prize longlisting buzz got to me so I put it on my immediate reading list. While it's intimidating to read a 1000 page novel that’s mostly narrated in one unbroken sentence, “Ducks, Newburyport” is ...more
Ace
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tob2020-longlist
This is quite an achievement which took years in the making and covers so much, the mind boggles. I am so glad to have taken the plunge and read it. A unique and hopeful story of how vulnerable we are in what has become a fucking bizarre world to live in. 5 stars
Pedro
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
I don’t like politics and patriotic speeches. I avoid at all costs any discussion on those topics. Don’t even get me started on that. My opinions are strong. I’m well known for having one (opinion) about every possible subject matter. What can I say? What can I do? Am I right? Am I wrong? Does it matter? No, it doesn’t matter, because, unfortunately (maybe) I can’t change a thing about anything just by using common sense or my good will. But, do I really want to make a difference? Yes, I do. Do ...more
Doug
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really at a loss as to how to review this behemoth door-stopper of a book. Although very early on I harbored thoughts of DNF'ing it, I'm so glad I labored on, since at some point, the book becomes downright addictive and it's difficult to put down. I still have a few quibbles, mainly that although much of the 'stream-of-consciousness' format makes sense and is often clever and humorous, there are also times that there are non-sequiturs or words/lists that come totally out of left field... it's ...more
Emer (A Little Haze)
I've spent well over a week reading Ducks Newburyport and yet I still can't fully decide how I truly feel about it. But perhaps by the end of this review I will have come to a conclusion...

I love the premise of this book. I love that it challenges the idea of how a book should be plotted, how a narrative should evolve...

But I also felt that the repetitive narrative technique of saying "the fact that" to start a new clause in the ongoing sentence this book is written in grew quickly tiresome. By
...more
Bianca
WINNER OF THE GOLDSMITHS PRIZE 2019

When I read about this novel in the Guardian, I was intrigued but also put off by its size. Nevertheless, I went to Edelweiss and requested the ARC, thinking if I’m meant to read it I’ll get approved. Many thanks to the publishers for approving my request.

As you’ve probably heard, this is a very long novel, written from the point of view of an unnamed forty-something stay-at-home mother of four, who lives in Newcomerstown, Ohio. She ruminates, wonders, jumps
...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I'm a push over. Antonomasia not so much as breathed the title than I ran off and pre=order'd thus'un direct from the pub'r direct from England this book. Blow me over there's a LTD ED of 500 available and for just 18 quid (is that proper English dear?) plus another 9 for shipping to Usofa minus 20 percent cuz I signed up for their newslitter and though it did take the entry of three (3!!!!) cards of credit (my good faith!) before they'd process ye ole Payment.

There are so many ways I'm able to
...more
Richard Derus
This CBC Radio interview recorded before she didn't win the Booker, and is tremendously interesting.

Real Rating: 4.75* of five

Can't do this justice. I don't know that I fully *got* the book; the story isn't much, but then again neither is Ulysses. The unfolding awareness, the blossoming consciousness, the sheer bravura attack on lesser lights of literary mediocrity that this long sentence represents is enough in and of itself to command your eyeblinks.

I'll pass on an important tip for those
...more
Ella
There is a feeling these days, living in the USA - call it stress, call it anxiety, call it embarrassment or more realistically it's shame, call it deadly, call it urgency and laziness all together, wonderwoman and malaise rolled into one, call it traumatic far too often, call it what you will, this book just nails it so perfectly that it is both a joy and a little bit painful to read.

I read a book similar in size this year and it took months. Not so with Ducks, Newburyport because it was like
...more
But_i_thought_
Take banal reflections on everyday life, add in free-association word lists, throw in plot points on children’s books and vintage movies, fret about the state of the environment, insert viral news headlines, insert diner lingo, bemoan the state of US gun laws, insert anxieties about motherhood, enclose a few cleaning tips, throw in memories of bizarre dream sequences – rinse, repeat! There, you have it. The algorithm to Ducks, Newsburyport.

The majority of this novel consists of the tireless
...more
Lee
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-top-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nick Craske
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lions and ducks and pies, oh my…

Quack This Way folks this word feast of a novel will vibrate your tuning forks.

I know I overzealously bounce with excitement when the prose style, idea and sentence craft of a new book gets into my system, but everything about this one is to be celebrated and cherished, from the discerning taste and brave support of a small independent publishing house, Galley Beggars Press, to the writer Lucy Ellmann’s bold and powerful concept and writing style. I get a real
...more
Robert
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One thing I notice about experimental novels is that I become fully immersed and start obsessing about them. This happened with Ducks, Newburyport.

From July 9th to July 28th I could not stop thinking about this book; every day I just wanted to know more about the narrator’s thoughts, how the plot would develop, the use of language and I would search the web every time I would come across some sort of term or acronym ( then I found out there’s a glossary of said acronyms in the back of the book!
...more
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
...the fact that I read 100 pages, the fact that that was about 40 pages too much, mulch, meh, much ado about nothing, the fact that I see why this appeals to many a reader but not me thanks, I’m good, good bad indifferent, goodness me what a load of verbiage, the fact that who was character X, who was character Y, couldn’t keep track, too much, overwhelmed by minutiae, my new shay, that’s easy for you to say, the fact that by around page 60 ‘the fact that’ and all that wordplay started to ...more
Claire
How do you write a review for such a spectacularly clever, original, magnificent novel? While accepting that nothing I can write here will do it justice, I will say, I came to Ducks, Newburyport with some trepidation. I am left at the end of this absorbing reading experience, convinced that this is a work of genius. Yes, this is a stylistically demanding read; part info-dump, part stream of consciousness narrative. This is overwhelming most of the time, but in my reading that really is the ...more
Regina Lemoine
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I decided to sit with this for a few days before writing my review. I wanted to put the book in some context based on other books I've read and loved recently. In short, I really love this book. Why then only 4 stars? I am pretty stingy when it comes to handing out 5 stars. Actually, I am on the stingier side when it comes to star ratings in general. To get 5 stars, a book has to be pretty much flawless and I don't think this novel is quite that. Almost, but not quite.

Edit: I’m changing my
...more
George
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book seemed uniquely maximalist, turning each reader into their own antenna that picks out references and allusions from the "torrent of meaningless info," as it's described on the back of the book. What with confirmation bias at play, one could almost nurture the illusion that this book was written with them specifically in mind. Such were my first impressions, but after reading more and more I feel that the book suffers from being almost solipsistically monophonic, a single radio ...more
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Lucy Ellmann was born in Evanston, Illinois, the daughter of biographer Richard Ellmann and writer Mary Ellmann (née Donahue). She moved to England at the age of 13 and was educated at Falmouth School of Art (Foundation degree, 1975), Essex University (BA, 1980), and the Courtauld Institute of Art (MA, 1981).

Her highly-praised autobiographical first novel, Sweet Desserts, was awarded the Guardian
...more
“the fact that you’ll never know what sort of person you might have been if you’d read different stuff” 4 likes
“he fact that there seems to be no problem in America that can’t be solved by murdering your whole family or your boss or a whole crowd of strangers, and maybe yourself” 3 likes
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