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Karnival Paperback – Jun 2 2002


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Amazon.ca First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist



Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Gutter (June 2 2002)
  • ISBN-10: 1896356389
  • ISBN-13: 978-1896356389
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Product Description

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Michael Mortensen's debut novel is the story of the Klieg Karnival, a circus and freak show that evolves into a huge entertainment extravaganza. The action begins, however, on an isolated farm in Alberta, where Old Man Wayne's incestuous offspring Thad and Mollie give birth to a child, Nola, who herself later bears Thad's son, Baby. When Thad comes to an untimely end, Nola escapes the farm and is picked up by Ralph, a kind but slightly deformed trucker. Baby is left abandoned to the care of the family dog, who shortly thereafter kills Mollie.

After the chaos of these first 25 pages the narrative leaves the Waynes for a time (they will return, though) and settles into a sweetness reminiscent of Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat stories. The book's narrator, Alice Clemmons, is a clairvoyant dwarf who marries the brother of the Karnival's founder and becomes a fortune teller known as Madame Isis. She guides the reader through three generations of the freaks, the disenfranchised, and the unloved who have joined the Karnival. Mortensen's characters are extremely resourceful and competent, like bizzaro-world versions of Ayn Rand heroes, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more unlucky bunch of misfits. There is enough tragedy in this book to fill two John Irving novels. Mortensen's simple storytelling makes even the strangest events perfectly believable, though, and Karnival's themes are familiar ones: people should be accepted for who they are, and love comes when we accept ourselves. --Moe Berg

Review

A precarious mix of picaresque, horror, romance and the explicitly inspirational, Karnival is a bumpy but entertaining ride ending in a heartfelt plea for human dignity. (Jim Bartley The Globe and Mail)

Mortensen's characters are extremely resourceful and competent, like bizzaro-world versions of Ayn Rand heroes, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more unlucky bunch of misfits. There is enough tragedy in this book to fill two John Irving novels. Mortensen's simple storytelling makes even the strangest events perfectly believable, though, and Karnival's themes are familiar ones: people should be accepted for who they are, and love comes when we accept ourselves. (Moe Berg)

From its evocative opening sentences to its startling yet inevitable finale, Karnival, the debut novel from American expatriate and long-time Toronto resident Michael Mortensen, weaves a compelling spell. -- Robert Wiersema

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

By Erica on Oct. 22 2002
Format: Paperback
Karnival, by Michael Mortensen is a refreshing change from the predicted novel I am accustomed to. The Klieg's, a carnival family persist despite everything and accept those who have not been accepted. Every page brought another twist and unexpected feeling. I believe that this author has successfully captured the longing and searching of love and acceptance of the human spirit within a surreal environment. Even in its darkest and tortuous moments, a glimmer of hope always persisted in the Karnival.
Each character in the book was brought alive with so much detail and personality that at times I cheered for certain characters, cried for some, and despaired for others. This was a page turner where you wished would never end, but that you could continue to follow the life of the Klieg's. By the end of the book, I too wanted to become a Klieg.
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By A Customer on Oct. 11 2002
Format: Paperback
When I first browsed at the cover of this book, I thought that the premise seemed a bit.......unrealistic. Partially through the first chapter, I was unsure about the book, but once I finished the first chapter, I had to read on to find out what was going to happen next. By the end of the second chapter I was hooked. Michael Mortensen wrote himself a great book. He is very descripitive and I felt drawn into the characters. I just couldn't put the book down. I highly recommend this book!
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By A Customer on Feb. 26 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a book with a great deal of sensitivity and understanding of the needs of all people within a society-expecially those who are born different with physical challenges. I feel that everyone who enjoys pointing a finger and having prejudice towards anyone should read this very informative and enjoyable book. I think they will quickly change their finger to point at themselves-unless of course they are brain dead to begin with.
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By A Customer on Feb. 26 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a very well-written book about many different kinds of prejudice. It takes place mostly in a carnival setting. It is very insightful, informative, and sensitive; however, it is very well-written and a great way to spend an afternoon. It really makes you think about how people who are different are treated in society.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
A Karnival of Klieg's Oct. 22 2002
By Erica - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Karnival, by Michael Mortensen is a refreshing change from the predicted novel I am accustomed to. The Klieg's, a carnival family persist despite everything and accept those who have not been accepted. Every page brought another twist and unexpected feeling. I believe that this author has successfully captured the longing and searching of love and acceptance of the human spirit within a surreal environment. Even in its darkest and tortuous moments, a glimmer of hope always persisted in the Karnival.
Each character in the book was brought alive with so much detail and personality that at times I cheered for certain characters, cried for some, and despaired for others. This was a page turner where you wished would never end, but that you could continue to follow the life of the Klieg's. By the end of the book, I too wanted to become a Klieg.
Intense Book Oct. 11 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When I first browsed at the cover of this book, I thought that the premise seemed a bit.......unrealistic. Partially through the first chapter, I was unsure about the book, but once I finished the first chapter, I had to read on to find out what was going to happen next. By the end of the second chapter I was hooked. Michael Mortensen wrote himself a great book. He is very descripitive and I felt drawn into the characters. I just couldn't put the book down. I highly recommend this book!
Karnival is great Feb. 26 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a book with a great deal of sensitivity and understanding of the needs of all people within a society-expecially those who are born different with physical challenges. I feel that everyone who enjoys pointing a finger and having prejudice towards anyone should read this very informative and enjoyable book. I think they will quickly change their finger to point at themselves-unless of course they are brain dead to begin with.
Karnival is an absolutely unusual book Feb. 26 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a very well-written book about many different kinds of prejudice. It takes place mostly in a carnival setting. It is very insightful, informative, and sensitive; however, it is very well-written and a great way to spend an afternoon. It really makes you think about how people who are different are treated in society.

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