The Man Who Loved Children

The Man Who Loved Children

eBook - 1940
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Open Road Media
“This crazy, gorgeous family novel” written at the end of the Great Depression “is one of the great literary achievements of the twentieth century” (Jonathan Franzen, The New York Times).

First published in 1940, The Man Who Loved Children was rediscovered in 1965 thanks to the poet Randall Jarrell’s eloquent introduction (included in this ebook edition), which compares Christina Stead to Leo Tolstoy. Today, it stands as a masterpiece of dysfunctional family life.
 
In a country crippled by the Great Depression, Sam and Henny Pollit have too much—too much contempt for one another, too many children, too much strain under endless obligation. Flush with ego and chilling charisma, Sam torments and manipulates his children in an esoteric world of his own imagining. Henny looks on desperately, all too aware of the madness at the root of her husband’s behavior. And Louie, the damaged, precocious adolescent girl at the center of their clashes, is the “ugly duckling” whose struggle will transfix contemporary readers.
 
Named one of the best novels of the twentieth century by Newsweek, Stead’s semiautobiographical work reads like a Depression-era The Glass Castle. In the New York Times, Jonathan Franzen wrote of this classic, “I carry it in my head the way I carry childhood memories; the scenes are of such precise horror and comedy that I feel I didn’t read the book so much as live it.”
 

Publisher: New York, Simon and Schuster, 1940
ISBN: 9781453265253
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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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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