The Man Who Loved Children

The Man Who Loved Children

Book - 1995
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The Man Who Loved Children, an acclaimed twentieth-century classic, is an unforgettable portrait of a magnificently dysfunctional family.

The Pollits--Sam and Henny and their swarming household of children and animals--inhabit an America wracked by the Great Depression, but are even more deeply embedded in a world of their own making. This is an intense, suffocating, theatrical, all-encompassing world, poor in material goods but rich in emotion and language. Manipulative, hyperbolic cheer from the haplessly egotistical father is matched by floods of exuberantly venomous invective from his infuriated wife, while Louie, the mistreated, love-hungry little girl at the heart of the story, is precocious and tenacious in equal measure, an ugly duckling we find ourselves fiercely rooting for.

Everything about the Pollits--their excesses of energy and indulgence, their closeness, their bitterness, their emotional fireworks--is extreme, but the paradoxical marvel of Christina Stead's masterpiece stems from its power to convey out of such extremes an utterly convincing depiction of the central relationships of human experience.

(Book Jacket Status: Not Jacketed)

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1995, c1968
ISBN: 9780679443643
0679443649
Branch Call Number: STEAD C
STEAD C
Characteristics: xxxvii, 529 p. ; 21 cm

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lukasevansherman
Oct 19, 2014

If you read widely, you often come across lists of the best authors or the best books you've never heard of/read, which I always find mildly condescending, but sometimes bear fruit, as is the case with the author John Williams (not the composer). I'm sure I can't be only one who thought this book was about a pedophile. Don't worry, it's about a messed up family. Despite the accolades from Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick (fun fact: they were married), Randall Jarrell, who wrote the introduction, and Jonathan Frazen, I found it very hard to get into this book or to care about any of the characters. Written by the Australian-born Christina Stead, the book does embody two major trends in the 20th century American novel, angsty suburban dwellers (Cheever, Updike, Yates) and the dysfunctional family (take your pick). It feels like this book wasn't really edited at all and Stead's dialogue is idiosyncratic in a way that has not aged well. It's a family with a lot of kids and not a lot of money and I confess I couldn't keep the kids straight. On the plus side, it's really long, like over 500 pages long. Drag.

kaiserd Jul 02, 2012

A really creepy combination of Louisa May Alcott and George Orwell. Think Little Men crossed with Animal Farm...one of those books that stick with you for a long time.

JillianML Feb 03, 2012

recommended by Anne Tyler

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