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The Human Comedy [Mass Market Paperback]

William Saroyan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 10.99
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Book Description

Aug. 15 1966 0440339332 978-0440339335 Reprint
The place is Ithaca, in California's San Joaquin Valley. The time is World War II. The family is the Macauley's—a mother, sister, and three brothers whose struggles and dreams reflect those of America's second-generation immigrants…In particular, fourteen-year-old Homer, determined to become one of the fastest telegraph messengers in the West, finds himself caught between reality and illusion as delivering his messages of wartime death, love, and money brings him face-to-face with human emotion at its most naked and raw.

Gentle, poignant and richly autobiographical, this delightful novel shows us the boy becoming the man in a world that even in the midst of war, appears sweeter, safer and more livable than out own.

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Review

The place is Ithaca, in California's San Joaquin Valley. The time is World War II. The family is the Macauley's -- a mother, sister, and three brothers whose struggles and dreams reflect those of America's second-generation immigrants.. In particular, fourteen-year-old Homer, determined to become one of the fastest telegraph messengers in the West, finds himself caught between reality and illusion as delivering his messages of wartime death, love, and money brings him face-to-face with human emotion at its most naked and raw.

Gentle, poignant and richly autobiographical, this delightful novel shows us the boy becoming the man in a world that even in the midst of war, appears sweeter, safer and more livable than out own.

(From the Publisher) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher

The place is Ithaca, in California's San Joaquin Valley. The time is World War II. The family is the Macauley's -- a mother, sister, and three brothers whose struggles and dreams reflect those of America's second-generation immigrants.. In particular, fourteen-year-old Homer, determined to become one of the fastest telegraph messengers in the West, finds himself caught between reality and illusion as delivering his messages of wartime death, love, and money brings him face-to-face with human emotion at its most naked and raw.

Gentle, poignant and richly autobiographical, this delightful novel shows us the boy becoming the man in a world that even in the midst of war, appears sweeter, safer and more livable than out own.


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Human Comedy Oct. 13 2003
By Abby
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"The Human Comedy" by William Saroyan, which is set in Ithaca, Ca, is about a family whom in time of war shows more courage than even the soldiers of World War II. The struggles and obstacles that the Macauleys face is a reflection of how the families have their own personal war to overcome. Dealing with the death of his father and an older brother drafted in the war, fourteen-year-old Homer still has a simple dream; to become the fastest telegraph messenger in the west. But even through the innocent dreams of a little boy there brings the reality of the nightmares of the real world. Homer is assigned to deliver telegraph messages of wartime to those who wait for their loved ones return. In the midst of enjoying his new line of work, he realizes that he has come "face-to-face with human emotions at its most naked and raw" state. He is awed by the way the letters can affect the feelings of the loved ones. Homer has to cope with the harsh truth of war.
The author's unique writing style goes beyond the norm of how a story is supposed to be told. Instead of the chapters transitioning from one to the next, Saroyan's approach is fragmented into the importance of the plot. Saroyan portrays a broad view of the sophistication of life. In Homer's world we can see him facing obstacles, choices, and emotions that all people go through. In my opinion, I believe that the author has done a good job with depicting the life of wartime families. However, at first I was not intrigued by the story, but as I read on, I was grabbed by it's realistic view on peoples' emotions. Homer represents the individual. Even though his situation may be more extreme than the average, he is basically confronted with decisions that will eventually shape his characteristics of being man. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading about surviving trials and tribulations. I have found this book to be fun and satisfactory.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Human Comedy Oct. 13 2003
By Abby
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"The Human Comedy" by William Saroyan, which is set in Ithaca, Ca, is about a family whom in time of war shows more courage than even the soldiers of World War II. The struggles and obstacles that the Macauleys face is a reflection of how the families have their own personal war to overcome. Dealing with the death of his father and an older brother drafted in the war, fourteen-year-old Homer still has a simple dream; to become the fastest telegraph messenger in the west. But even through the innocent dreams of a little boy there brings the reality of the nightmares of the real world. Homer is assigned to deliver telegraph messages of wartime to those who wait for their loved ones return. In the midst of enjoying his new line of work, he realizes that he has come "face-to-face with human emotions at its most naked and raw" state. He is awed by the way the letters can affect the feelings of the loved ones. Homer has to cope with the harsh truth of war.
The author's unique writing style goes beyond the norm of how a story is supposed to be told. Instead of the chapters transitioning from one to the next, Saroyan's approach is fragmented into the importance of the plot. Saroyan portrays a broad view of the sophistication of life. In Homer's world we can see him facing obstacles, choices, and emotions that all people go through. In my opinion, I believe that the author has done a good job with depicting the life of wartime families. However, at first I was not intrigued by the story, but as I read on, I was grabbed by it's realistic view on peoples' emotions. Homer represents the individual. Even though his situation may be more extreme than the average, he is basically confronted with decisions that will eventually shape his characteristics of being man. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading about surviving trials and tribulations. I have found this book to be fun and satisfactory.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Keep in mind the definition of Comedy Oct. 11 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is an well written novel that looks at the life for a lower-middle class family of yesterday. Life was enjoyable, but it was also hard. The whole family sometimes had to work just to get by.
First of all, don't come to this book looking for a laugh a minute. Traditionally, a comedy is a lighthearted drama that has a happy ending. It isn't a jokefest, it's just not a dark sadistic story.
On the downside, the character viewpoint changes from chapter to chapter. Until I got used to this, I would get disoriented from chapter to chapter.
On the upside, it portrays life as it is. That is one of the elements of Humor as opposed to Wit. Wit is designed to make us laugh out loud through exaggeration or the twisting of words into a punchline from an otherwise normal situation. Humor portrays the real as it actually is so that we can sit back and see the funny things in life all around us.
This book allows us to sit back and enjoy ourselves through joys and extreme hardships. A son loving his family and providing for it by delivering telegrams comes home utterly dejected because he ends up delivering several War Department telegrams. But we also see him take part in his brother's rescue from a newfangled animal trap designed not to hurt the prey.
Overall I really enjoyed the book, the main thing that held it back from a five star review was the confustion in continuity through the chapters. I would suggest this book, as well as others by Saroyan as a good buy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Life in Ithaca July 11 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It's hard to imagine that viewing the world through the eyes of a teenager could reflect the harsh realities of life. William Saroyan has accomplished this in The Human Comedy.
Fourteen-year-old Homer Macauley is convinced that he will be somebody someday. Homer is not particularly smart or athletic, and in most regards, is a typical teenager. He gets bored in school, daydreams about girls and has run-ins with authority figures. His redeeming quality is a burning ambition that drives him to be the best at things that matter most to him. Without fully realizing the consequences, Homer accepts a job that requires him to deliver wartime telegrams that are quite literally matters of life and death. The effects of reality set in, and Homer soon finds himself faced with emotions more complex than he has ever known before.
The Macauley family is atypical. The children are fatherless and without their oldest brother. Their mother is left to preserve the deeply rooted family bond. Interspersed with ordinary events and everyday people, it is easy to visualize life for this family in their small California town. Mr. Saroyan could be accused of writing a book too Rockwellian in character; American life as seen through the Saturday Evening Post. The Human Comedy is much too poignant to be defined this way.
This is not a tale of teen angst or rebellion. It is merely about growing up. Most of Homer's struggles are internal, but one can still feel the sadness and rage that build inside him. The conclusion is predictable, but at the same time, inevitable. Homer must eventually face his greatest fear. Ultimately fulfilling, a bittersweet ending is the result.
I was startled to read...that the ending was changed in the paperback version of The Human Comedy. If so, the hardcover edition is certainly worth checking out.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
In the book, The Human Comedy, Homer, a fourteen year old boy, who works to help pay for things. Like food and the regular house-hold needs, because his father died in his early... Read more
Published on March 11 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Comedy?... THINK AGAIN
The Human "Comedy" is not a funny story at all. It is a little sad and depressing although it does have a good plot. Read more
Published on Oct. 1 2003 by Katie B
3.0 out of 5 stars The Human Comedy.... more like "The Human Drama"!
This book is a story about a California family whose eldest son is sent off to war. The younger brother must provide for the family by getting a job as a telegraph messenger. Read more
Published on Oct. 1 2003 by Katie B
4.0 out of 5 stars The Book that confused my friends
The Human Comedy is the story of Homer Macauley's life during the war. With his brother off to fight WWII he must support the family with his new job. Read more
Published on Sept. 30 2003 by Harrison Touw
1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible
The Human Comedy was a horrible book. It was too simple, not challenging enough. The book had only a vague plot, and it was covered up by the additional and useless events that... Read more
Published on April 3 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars This could easily be a stage play.
"The Human Comedy" was an enjoyable read; light, yet complex all at once. The children's dialogue was delightful! So cute, yet mature. Read more
Published on March 22 2003 by MAB
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
The "Human Comedy" is the story of a family in Ithaca, California, during World War II.. A mother, 3 sons and a daughter.. The oldest son, Marcus, is in the Army.. Read more
Published on March 22 2003 by E. hansen
1.0 out of 5 stars A Book for the Ages...
This book is one that has no real plot. It continues on, with purpose kept well hidden-- from the begging to the end-- from the reader. Read more
Published on Dec 15 2002 by "brianctusa"
4.0 out of 5 stars Great novel if you like shorter books
I recomend The Human Comedy to all readers. If you like books around world war II, this book is for you. Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2002 by gymn96
5.0 out of 5 stars ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!!!
If I could give this book six stars, I definitely would. I read it in the 8th grade, and absolutely loved it. Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2002
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