Rarely has a literary novel so captured the hearts and minds of readers and listeners across America and the world as E. Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Accordion Crimes is another masterpiece of storytelling that spans a century and a continent.
The book opens in 1890 in Sicily as an accordion maker completes his finest instrument and dreams of owning a music store in America. He and his 11-year-old son, carrying little more than the accordion, voyage to the teeming, violent port of New Orleans. Within a year, the accordion maker is murdered by an anti-Italian lynching mob, but his instrument carries Proulx's story as it falls into the hands of various immigrants who carry it from Iowa to Texas, from Maine to Louisiana, looking for a decent life. The music is their last link with the past - voice for their fantasies, sorrows and exuberance - but it, too, is forced to change.
Proulx's prodigious knowledge, heartbreaking characters, and daring storytelling unite the sections of Accordion Crimes - a stunning novel, exhilarating in its scope and originality.
©1996 Annie Proulx (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
"In scale, in vision and in imaginative darling, Accordion Crimes uses all the range and the resources of Proulx's mature prose.... She is a great novelist." (The New Republic)
I LOVED the Shipping News by Annie Proulx, and the premise for this book sounded fascinating. So I bought it as soon as I saw it. The writing is exquisite in its often whimsical detail, but I kept waiting for some kind of story to tie things together, and some kind of silver lining behind the clouds of squalor and human misery. I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting, slogging through all that misery... but by the second part I gave up because the "tie" or the silver lining never showed up. The narrative was just too depressing.
Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.
How I wish these audio books could be rated for their "feel-good" or encouraging or uplifting quality, for intelligent content that is HOPEFUL! I like this author and enjoyed her Ace in the Hole. I've gotten Shipping News and already saw the film. Ditto Brokeback Mountain. And the other book, the autobiographical one. Now I'm one-third into this thing with an aching tooth, deadlines to meet, 20 pounds to lose before a planned surgery, documents to find and letters to write -- do I want to hear how everyone who ever owned this accordion came to a bad end? I love American history and Annie has some good material here, but . . . sheesh! For sure she is not Walt Whitman!
So I'm writing this little review to warn others and to praise the narrator. Stechschulte -- if I can spell his name okay -- is bloody marvelous! He gets all the accents, various languages, all ages, both sexes and he even sings. I will watch for him in choosing my future listens.
For this to be a 4 or 5 star experience, it would have had to be a different story. It was dreary, depressing, endlessly gruesome, and just plain awful.
There was unending pain and misery in this story. There were no characters to root for. Everyone was either awful, crazy, or abused and/or all of the above. As the book progressed, the story rambled more and more until I just wanted to be finished so I could stop reading this horrible book.
Although he did an admirable job with the material, I have to say that none of them were my favorite.
All of them.
I read this for my book club and when we met to discuss it, everyone in the group really could not stand this book. It probably generated the most conversation of any book we have discussed and that's the only good thing I can say about it.
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