As deep and broad and beautiful and American as the Grand Canyon. Because this torrent spills from the mind of one ordinary woman (an Ohioan, a wife, a mom, a baker of pies), because she’s hilarious, because her doubts and deprecations, her fondnesses and fears, are so mundane and relatable, because she exists as one of the truest-to-life fictional characters you could ever hope to meet, this book probably won’t get the credit it deserves, credit for originality, insight, and literary excellence. Which is a shame, because Ducks, Newburyport is a domestic national epic to set beside Moby-Dick, a corrosive comic cultural indictment to compare with William Gaddis’s National Book Award-winning J R. Read it and weep from laughter and righteous anger.
—James Crossley, Madison Books, Seattle, WA
Ducks, Newburyport is, without hyperbole, a landmark work of genius. Indisputably so, and yet that feels like inadequate praise for what Lucy Ellmann is doing here. Ducks resembles a Dewey Decimal card catalog dedicated to post-9/11 Americana being rifled through at warp speed or the collected stories of Diane Williams algorithmically rewritten with a Great Lakes accent. Superlatives fall short, especially when we’re talking about a book that flouts the fusty conventions of the canon so wildly. ‘Landmark’, sure. ‘Genius’, of course. More importantly, Ellmann is writing something so free from the standards of those well-trodden terms that they begin to lose all meaning. And thank heavens for that.
—Justin Walls, Powell’s Books, Portland, OR
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