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Mister Sandman: A Novel Hardcover – 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Hanover, New Hampshire, U.S.A.: Steerforth Pr; 1st Edition edition (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883642337
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883642334
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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

4.6 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Hunter on May 14 2001
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on Aug. 2 1997
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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