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Mister Sandman: A Novel [Hardcover]

Barbara Gowdy
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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JOAN CANARY was the Reincarnation Baby. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous Work from a Wonderful Canadian Author May 14 2001
Barbara Gowdy's Mister Sandman is a wonderful find. It is amazing to discover how much fun and quirky the book and the characters are and, yet, somehow the writing always reaches deeper just when the reader does not expect it. The book creates emotion out of chaos and pieces together a novel of the heart that a lesser writer would have made straight forward and senimental. The author has simply made it strange turning into unusual turning into delightful turning into moving and then coming back again. These are characters that are hard to forget, particulary the baby Joan, a truly unique creation. It is great to find a Canadian author of such talent.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes funny, possibly disturbing Oct. 23 2001
I was suggested this book by Amazon's recommendations engine and then was convinced by all the 5 star reviews to add it to my wish-list. So then I got if for Christmas and finally got to it a couple weeks ago.
I wouldn't call it a waste of time. There are some very funny parts (mostly in the beginning and the end) and it's definitely unique. But... the story didn't really hold together well for me. It was more like a bunch of short stories set in the same place, as Gowdy takes one character at a time and exposes their strange (though I'm sure more common than most people think) lives. I wasn't disturbed by the amount of sexual material in the book but anyone that thinks this book is about some cute, angelic child should definitely beware.
Another reviewer mentioned purpose and resolution. I would have to agree, the ending didn't really explain much or give you any idea about the future of the family members. I don't think there really was a point Gowdy was trying to get across, unless it was "life is stranger than it looks at a glance".
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By A Customer
I first came upon this book when I had the pleasure of hearing Ms. Gowdy speak. Two paragraphs in to her reading, I knew this was a novel of extraordinary humour ... and delicious weirdness. The Canary family is odd - Mom's an actress, Dad can't bear to come out of the closet, the eldest daughter bobby pins her way to emotional strength and independence, the younger daughter is too smart to survive her family with her sanity entirely intact and Joan (the baby) is, well, unusual. Joan however becomes the lynchpin to keeping this family together and, at the same time, giving all of her family members a chance at independence.
Barbara Gowdy is a master of the weird. This is a book that I handed to 15 people and they either swallowed it whole - often finishing it in one orgy of late night reading - or gave up sometime after Mom's escapade with "Queen for a Day". (You'll have to read it.) Give it a shot - it'll be painless. Trust me.
Mary Henricksen (threescr@istar.ca) Vancouver, Canada
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The Canary family turn the terms "marginal" and "disfunctional" inside out. Every member of this family has severe physical and/or emotional and/or psycological problems. Yet, they still enjoy a rich family life that, in many ways, is defined by love, loyalty and devotion. And this fact is the underpining of this book and, probably, society at large. For while they suffer mightily, they do so, largely, together and, in remaining together, forge the bonds that ultimately allow them to survive and, in some ways, flourish.
This is a rich, deeply spiritual book in many ways, though the prose can, and often does, take on a coarse, often vulgar character--again, a lot like life itself.
In the end, the books is a study of the difference between happiness and contentment in working through the difficulties of life.
I heartily recommend the book. One is well warned, however, that at times the coarseness of the manuscript can be unsettling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A major talent Aug. 2 1997
By A Customer
This is a book so full of magic and so wonderfully written, by an author so confident of what she has to say and how she wants to say it that all I can say is READ THIS BOOK! Not just the best book I've read this year, but perhaps the best book I've read in many years. Joan is one of the most original and intriguing characters ever put to paper -- the whole family is actually. I love Gowdy's obvious fondness for people others would dismiss as "marginal", dysfunctional, or just plain weird. This is one of those rare books that stay with you long after you've finished it --making you think about what the author has to say and reflecting on the beauty of the way she says it. (And it's damn funny a lot of the time too!) I'm scarfing up everything by Gowdy I can find and I'll be anxiously awaiting all her future books. Incredibly good work. This is a writer to watch!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Audacious but ultimately disappointing Jan. 22 1998
This is a very modern novel dealing with such topics as reincarnation, homosexuality, promiscuity, unwed motherhood, brain damage and agoraphobia--almost all of which were taboo in the story's timeframe of 1955-74. Like many works of modern art, this book will not appeal to everyone. My complaint was not the subject matter, but the lack of resolution. Many of the themes are begun in an interesting manner and are then dropped as if forgotten. The central character is a genius doll-like child named Joan who comes into the world screaming "Oh no, not again!" Then, after 18 years of silence as a mute, Joan is finally able to communicate to her entire family their individual best-kept secrets. What the point is, I'm not really sure. Definitely an individual choice in book reading, it might be best to wait for the paperback.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange and dysfunctional family, but good characters
Gowdy has quite an imagination. This is the most dysfunctional family I've read about (right up there with "Fall on Your Knees"). Read more
Published on Dec 30 2002 by Deanne Kelley
5.0 out of 5 stars I must agree with the rest
This is definitely one of those books you really can't put down. (I also couldn't get the song Mister Sandman out of my head.) Each character has such distinct personality traits. Read more
Published on April 19 2000 by Jen
5.0 out of 5 stars Mister Sandman
This is an amazing book! I have read it at least six times. The characters are so strange and bizare but yet so real and human. I could not put this book down. Read more
Published on April 11 2000 by Heather R Sabian
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it!
Cleverly written, Mister Sandman looks into its characters' lives with honest and intimate detail. The characters are richly and vividly portrayed; the Canarys are strange yet... Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2000 by Koka L. Thomason
5.0 out of 5 stars Desert Island Pick
This is an amazing book! It's well-crafted, funny, sad, sensitive, mystical- all of the elements of the story come together for an ending that is perfection! Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a dreamy yet very real book
I picked up Mister Sandman at the library around three years ago (paperback version)I was through in about a day. Read more
Published on June 7 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars strange, wonderful, and insightful
The thing about this book that really caught my attention was the authors amazing ability to write about sex in a very real, uncontrived way. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Place this between She's Come Undone & God of Small Things
Barbara Gowdy is a major league voice in a minor league arena, Canada. This novel screams Editor's Pick, NY Times Bestseller, Oprah's Choice but it remains quietly shelved,... Read more
Published on Oct. 12 1998 by mindycarpenter@hotmail.com
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favorites! Funny and provocative.
Reminded me of Geek Love by K. Dunn and The World According to Garp by Irving, but loved this book even more! Read more
Published on Sept. 24 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars A very unusual and great book
This is one of the greatest books I've ever read! The story is fascinating and interesting,the characters deep and well described. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 1998
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