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Darlington's Fall: A novel in verse Paperback – Sep 23 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; Reprint edition (Sept. 23 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375709444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375709449
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 15.1 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 426 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,465,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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By J Scott Morrison TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Nov. 16 2002
Format: Hardcover
Novels in verse are fairly rare: Pushkin's 'Eugene Onegin', Vikram Seth's 'The Golden Gate', and Nobelist Derek Walcott's 'Omeros', come to mind. This novel is composed of ten-line stanzas with a rhyme scheme that mandates each line-end have a rhyme-mate somewhere in the stanza, but these ryhmes occur in irregular places, e.g. ABCCADDEEB, as in this sample verse, chosen at random from page 161:
(Nothing on earth, surely there's nothing on earth,
So hopeful, so suggestive of some gilt, goaled kindness
Or mercy at the heart of Nature than the notion
Of convergent evolution--
This thought that the ranged obstacles to any birth
Are immaterial and can be sidestepped . . .
The eye, for instance--look how Nature kept
Contriving it anew, freshly seeing its way
Out of the darkness--as if, at the end of the day,
The mind were _destined_ to escape from blindness.)
The language used tends to be only slightly elevated in tone, and conversational American English creeps in comfortably. Other reviewers have summarized the plot about the life of a boy prodigy who becomes a lepidopterist, has a terrible fall on a remote Pacific Island that cripples him. The protagonist is a gentle, lovable man whose training in Darwinian concepts leads him to accept the randomness and cruelty of life, but whose Wordsworthian love of Nature is never dimmed. I found the plot to be quite involving (as well as involved) and I had trouble slowing down my reading to savor the poetry.
A book to be treasured and re-read.
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Format: Hardcover
I was initially attracted to this book because I HAVE been to Ponape (now known as Pohnpei) and was surprised to find the obscure island a location for a novel. I was further intrigued by the idea of a novel in verse form (although I must admit that this aspect alone might have led me to avoid it). I'm glad I didn't. The verse is musical without being obvious, distracting (or obtuse), and the story is an interesting one--a love story on many levels and one that makes insightful observations about human nature, natural selection, adaption and evolution. Despite the joy it brought me, I did find myself at times wanting more--more detail, more exploration, more connection between the "writer" and his "subject." But that is a minor complaint, for a book that surprised me in so many ways.
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By Stan Nevin on April 29 2002
Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful combination of left brain and right brain this book is. It communicates in ways that no novel or poem ever could. No poem could have the emotional drive of this story with these characters - and yet the verse does much to heighten that drive in the most dramatic sequences. No novel could match the satisfying, complexly intelligent structure of this verse - but the sweep of this novel allows for intellectual explorations which - for me at least - no poem could ever support. Actually, I've never been a fan of long poems before, but I found the verse here very accessible - it supports the characters and the story, rather than simply calling attention to itself. I really enjoyed this book.
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By A Customer on April 25 2002
Format: Hardcover
My book club had expressed interest in reading poetry in addition to the novels. Brad Leithauser's Darlington's Fall, a novel in verse, proved to be the perfect selection. One savors the language while being engrossed in the story. While dissecting such elements of prosody as proximate versus exact rhymes, one can also engage the big questions of science and daily life and love. Poetry suffuses the work, but it never slows the reader down. The illustrations, which announce each chapter, done by Brad's brother, Mark Leithauser, marvelously exhibit the antic style and love of detail that is found in Brad's writing. This book succeeds on so many levels that the reviewer can only provide the barest hints of the jewels to be found. You really have to read it yourself
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By A Customer on April 17 2002
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't help wondering as I read this book whether there's a limit to the worldly (and other-worldly) charms to which Leithauser seems to hold the key. I concluded there isn't.
I've never been to either Indiana or Ponape, but having tracked Russ Darlington's life, I now feel comfortable claiming to know both places. "Darlington's Fall" is a magical journey through beautiful landscapes and weighty terrain. It's certainly a trip worth taking.
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