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The Giant's House: A Romance

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The Giant's House: A Romance Cover

ISBN13: 9780380730209
ISBN10: 0380730200
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

Chapter One

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I do not love mankind.

People think they're interesting. That's their first mistake. Every retiree you meet wants to supply you with his life story.

An example: thirty-five years ago a woman came into the library. She'd just heard about oral histories, and wanted to string one together herself.

"We have so many wonderful old people around," she said. "They have such wonderful stories. We could capture them on tape, then maybe transcribe them--don't you think that would make a wonderful record of the area? My father, for instance, is in a nursing home--"

Her father. Of course. She was not interested in the past, but her past.

"If I wanted to listen to old people nattering on," I told her, "I would ride a Greyhound bus across country. Such things get boring rather quickly, don't they."

The woman looked at me with the same smile she'd had on the entire conversation. She laughed experimentally.

"Oh Miss Cort," she said. "Surely you didn't mean that."

"I did and I do," I answered. My reputation even thirty-five years ago was already so spoiled there was no saving it. "I really don't see the point, do you?"

I felt that if those old people had some essential information they should write it down themselves. A life story can make adequate conversation but bad history.

Still, there you are in a nursing home, bored and lonely, and one day something different happens. Instead of a gang of school kids come to bellow Christmas carols at you, there's this earnest young person with a tape recorder, wanting to know about a flood sixty years ago, or what Main Street was like, or some such nonsense. All the other people in the home are sick to death of hearing your stories, because really let's be honest you only have a few.

Suddenly there's a microphone in your face. Wham! just like that, you're no longer a dull conversationalist, you're a natural resource.

Back then I thought, if you go around trying to rescue every fact or turn of phrase, you would never stop, you would eaves drop until your fingers ached from playing the black keys of your tape recorder, until the batteries had gasped their last and the tape came to its end and thunked the machine off, no more, and still you would not have made a dent on the small talk of the world. People are always downstairs, talking without you. They gather in front of stores, run into each other at restaurants, and talk. They clump together at parties or couple up at the dinner table. They organize themselves by profession (for instance, waitresses), or by quality of looks, or by hobby, or companion (in the case of dog owners and married people), or by sexual preference or weight or social ease, and they talk.

Imagine what there is to collect: every exchange between a customer and a grocery store clerk, wrong numbers, awful baby talk to a puppy on the street, what people yell back at the radio, the sound the teenage boy outside my window makes when he catches the basketball with both his hands and his stomach, every oh lord said at church or in bed or standing up from a chair. Thank you, hey watch it, gesundheit, who's a good boy, sweetness, how much? I love your dress.

An Anthology of Common Conversation. Already I can tell you it will be incomplete. In reference works, as in sin, omission is as bad as willful misbehavior. All those words go around and end up nowhere; your fondest wishes won't save them. No need to be a packrat of palaver anyhow. Best to stick with recorded history.

Now, of course, I am as guilty as anyone, and this book is the evidence. I'm worse; I know my details by heart, no inter views necessary. No one has asked me a question yet, but I will not shut up.

Peggy Cort is crazy, anyone will tell you so. That lady who wanted to record the town's elders, the children who visited the library, my co-workers, every last soul in this town. The only person who ever thought I wasn't is dead; he is the subject of this memoir.

Let me stop. History is chronological, at least this one is. Some women become librarians because they love order; I'm one. Ordinal, cardinal, alphabetical, alphanumerical, geographical, by subject, by color, by shape, by size. Something logical that people--one hopes--cannot botch, although they will.

This isn't my story.

Let me start again.

The foregoing is excerpted from The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken. All rights reserved.

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

katatrina, August 5, 2008 (view all comments by katatrina)
Maybe what appeals to me is the description of the order of the library, or the fact that I can relate to the "spinster" librarian, but the dry, articulate voice of the narrator makes this book. I had to read it again to fully appreciate it. As a romance, it is poignant and respectable, not at all cheesy. You can completely overlook the uncomfortable bits.
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(4 of 16 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780380730209
Subtitle:
A Romance
Author:
McCracken, Elizabeth
Author:
McCracken, Elizabeth
Publisher:
Perennial
Location:
New York :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Massachusetts
Subject:
Man-woman relationships
Subject:
Love stories
Subject:
Giants
Subject:
Cape Cod (Mass.) Fiction.
Subject:
Women librarians.
Subject:
Giants -- Massachusetts -- Cape Cod -- Fiction.
Subject:
Cape Cod
Copyright:
Publication Date:
19970701
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.05x5.25x.86 in. .50 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Romance » General

The Giant's House: A Romance Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Harper Perennial - English 9780380730209 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Reminiscent of such late 20th century treasures as The Accidental Tourist, The World According to Garp, or A Confederacy of Dunces."
"Review" by , "Highly recommended...eloquent and hauntingly beautiful...This is a terrific novel."
"Review" by , "Fabulously imagined...exceptional...a writer of unusual gifts...a dark fairy tale of a novel."
"Review" by , "Satisfying...Often exquisite...McCracken unpacks metaphors with the intensity of a poet."
"Review" by , "Rare and refreshing...McCracken's sense of character is deeply subversive."
"Review" by , "Such is the incantatory power of McCracken's eccentric tale that by its close we are completely in the grip of its strangely conceived ardor....I was reminded at various points of Harper Lee, Marjorie Kellogg, Carson McCullers and Walker Percy."
"Review" by , "A true marvel...thoroughly enjoyable from its unlikely beginning to its bittersweet end...McCracken knows all kinds of subtle, enticing secrets of the heart and conveys them in silky, transparent language."
"Review" by , "This book is my kind of romance — fated and complicated, with a heroine who is as difficult as I could want...a woman who wins you over the the audacity of her obsessions".
"Synopsis" by , The year is 1950. Peggy Cort, a librarian in a small Cape Cod town, is 26 and has begun to fear that she will live her life without ever experiencing love's transforming power. Until she meets James, 11 years old, six foot four, and still growing. Quietly heroic about his predicament, James checks out books on conjuring and gigantism, and they soon find their lives entwined in ways that neither of them could have predicted. In James, Peggy discovers the one person suited to encompass her love, and as he grows — six foot five at age 12, then seven feet, then eight — so does her heart and their most singular romance. This stunning first novel was a finalist for a National Book Award in Fiction in 1996.
"Synopsis" by , The year is 1950 and at 26, librarian Peggy Cort feels like love and life have passed her by. Until the day James Carlson Sweatt, the "over-tall" 11-year-old boy who's the talk of the town, walks into her library and changes her life forever. Two misfits whose lonely paths cross at the circulation desk, Peggy and James are odd candidates for friendship, but nevertheless they soon find their lives entwined in ways that neither one could have predicted.
"Synopsis" by , Named one of the 20 Best Young American Novelists by Granta magazine, Elizabeth McCracken is a writer of fabulous gifts. The Giant's House, her first novel, is an unforgettably tender and quirky novel about the strength of choosing to love in a world that offers no promises, and no guarantees.

The year is 1950, and in a small town on Cape Cod twenty-six-year-old librarian Peggy Cort feels like love and life have stood her up. Until the day James Carlson Sweatt--the "over-tall" eleven-year-old boy who's talk of the town-walks into her library and changes her life forever. Two misfits whose lonely paths cross at the circulation desk, Peggy and James are odd candidates for friendship, but nevertheless they find their lives entwined in ways that neither one could have predicted. And as James grows--six foot five at age twelve, then seven feet, then eight--so does Peggy's heart and their most singular romance.Named one of the 20 Best Young American Novelists by Granta magazine, Elizabeth McCracken is a writer of fabulous gifts. The Giant's House, her first novel, is an unforgettably tender and quirky novel about the strength of choosing to love in a world that offers no promises, and no guarantees.

The year is 1950, and in a small town on Cape Cod twenty-six-year-old librarian Peggy Cort feels like love and life have stood her up. Until the day James Carlson Sweatt--the "over-tall" eleven year-old boy who's talk of the town--walks into her library and changes her life forever. Two misfits whose lonely paths cross at the circulation desk, Peggy and James are odd candidates for friendship, but nevertheless they find their lives entwined in ways that neither one could have predicted. And as James grows--six foot five at age twelve, then seven feet, then eight--so does Peggy's heart and their most singular romance.

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