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Ducks, Newburyport

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  171 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Peeling apple after apple for the tartes tatin she bakes for local restaurants, an Ohio mother wonders how to exist in a world of distraction and fake facts, besieged by a tweet-happy president and trigger-happy neighbors, and all of them oblivious to what Dupont has dumped into the rivers and what’s happening at the factory farm down the interstate―not to mention what was ...more
Paperback, US edition, 1020 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Biblioasis (first published July 4th 2019)
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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  171 ratings  ·  79 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 w ...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

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 the 988 pages, logging several months in the
...more
Gumble's Yard
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 anymore, and that’s sort of spooky, or is it just the thought of the way she
...more
Meike
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: uk, 2019-booker, usa, 2019-read
Now 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 shape-shifted into a novel. Our protagonist
...more
Paul Fulcher
Now shortlisted for the Man Booker....

I have a lot of respect for Galley Beggar, and admire them for having the courage to publish such an ambitious novel and congratulations on the Booker shortlisting. 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 waded throu
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Lee Klein
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Vit Babenco
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 belo
...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
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
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 n ...more
Marchpane
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, big-books
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, Trum
...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
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
Lee
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-top-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
George
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  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 transmis ...more
Declan
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My Irish Times review is here, but for the moment only the opening section is available to non-subscribers. If it all becomes available, I will repost the link.
https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/bo...
Jonathan Pool
This is a lengthy book concentrating in microcosmic detail on life's daily issues and concerns. If you agree with, and certainly identify with, a good number of the opinions voiced it will be worth the time invested..

One Goodreads friend, a self confessed pedant for linguistic accuracy loved it 
(Neil, https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..., I thought of you and knew you were going to be a fan when I read this early in the book “The fact that I still don’t really know the difference between env
...more
Tommi
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After 600 pages, the ducks knocked me over and dragged me into their lair of numbness. I was defeated, just lying there listening to their diabolic torrent of quacks. But I stayed alert for the spectacular lioness, who, occasionally, made an appearance in the horizon.
Chris Haak
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am only halfway, but Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann is already one of my favorite books of 2019. 1020 pages and consisting of more or less one sentence, this novel is fortunately still very readable and often very funny. In this 'great American novel,' the reader is 'inside' the head of a married woman with four children from a small town in Ohio. She bakes cakes for a living and worries about almost everything: her children, her financial situation, the fact that she is so shy. But also a ...more
Jackie Law
“the fact that what is it with this constant monologue in my head, the fact that why am I telling myself all this stuff”

Ducks, Newburyport, by Lucy Ellmann, is mostly written in the form of a single sentence, containing many commas, and running across almost one thousand pages. Add in the notes at the end, expansion of the acronyms scattered throughout the text, and it easily breaks this tally. It also weighs more than a kilogram – a Big Book in every sense of the word.

I mention that it is mostl
...more
Dan
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: highly patient readers with time to spare
4.5 stars. Great fun, unique voice, wildly inventive. But I'm still wondering if it would have been just as or almost as effective if hundreds of pages shorter. Compliments to Marchpane and Lee for their fine reviews.
Paul Dembina
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed being in this Ohio woman's head. I totally agree with her concerns regarding shootings and environmental destruction and pollution. Also in her restrained anger at Trump. However I think it's the latter which will tend to make the novel date badly (I hope) in 10 years time. I'd like to hope the other concerns will date it but fear they'll be as relevant in a decade as they are now. So although a good book, it's very much of its time.
Matthew Sciarappa
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it is complete. 🦆
Collin
DNF for the moment, :(
Michael Seidlinger
Yes, it's really THAT good. Give yourself over to Ellmann's prose; you'll come out of the experience a changed person.
Martin Koerner
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A cumulative, discursive page-turning delight of a novel. A journey into the unconscious thoughts and conscious preoccupations of an American mother-of-four; a journey which takes in Trump, the environment, the right to bear arms, raising children and raising cakes. Despite its seeming scattershot appearance, the journey does have a direction, albeit a subtle one, and despite the “stream of consciousness” vibe, it doesn’t suffer for lack of drama or storyline. It is, in short, an absolute triump ...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Sep 04, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: a-wish-liszt
In the Tower the Reader Sighs
[Apologies to Robyn Hitchcock]


You've got a sweet mouth on you, Lucy,
And one long pair of lips...
Though, I love your golden tongue,
When it pouts
Between your little sips.
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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