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The Sentimentalists Paperback – Oct 1 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Gaspereau Press; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554470781
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554470785
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #585,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"a solid debut and a beautiful tribute to a father-daughter relationship." (Globe and Mail 2010-10-15)

"Skibsrud knows what she’s doing: The slow fuse of the novel’s first half turns out to be a very effective setup for the explosive second." (National Post 2010-11-13)

"The writing here is trip-wire taut as the exploration of guilt, family and duty unfolds." (Giller Jury 2010-11-09)

"[Skibsrud's] book is an affirmation of why we still try -- why we still use words to reclaim history, to imagine another's pain, to hold onto what is human in the face of violence and chaos. The Sentimentalists may be profoundly sad, but Skibsrud also reminds us that sadness is not the same as hopelessness." (Winnipeg Review 2011-01-06)

"The Sentimentalists beautifully examines the profound affect memories can have not only on an individual, but on all those close to him...The poet's touch is evident throughout...Skibsrud approaches the English language more like an art form, and less like a science. Her carefully composed passages use a sort of philosophical prose to understanding her topics of memory...The Sentimentalists, with its poetic elegance, eloquently describes the never-ending struggle to remember, to simplify and to understand." (Critics at Large 2011-03-02)

"Napoleon Haskell's life has always been a mystery to his daughter -- he was a drifter, an alcoholic and an ex-marine who has never spoken about what happened one night in Vietnam. As he slips into senility, his daughter tries to pull together the crumbling fragments of his memory into a narrative that will explain their dysfunctional family." (More Magazine 2011-06-01)

"A hypnotic meditation on memory, it reaffirms the potential for storytelling to offer clarity and redemption." (Hirsh Sawhney New York Times 2011-07-01)

"This is less a novel with a single plot than the stories of three characters and their layered, intersecting identities...I recommend it for the book it is rather than the story it's become." (Geist 2011-07-01)

"This novel takes a quirky and lyrical look at the long-lasting effects of the Vietnam war on a family and their friends across both the American and Canadian borders." (Winnipeg Free Press 2011-08-13)

"...a slender but deeply contemplative novel..." (NOW Magazine 2011-10-20) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Johanna Skibsrud’s first poetry collection, Late Nights With Wild Cowboys, was published in 2008 by Gaspereau Press and was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award. She has also published a novel with Gaspereau Press entitled The Sentimentalists. Originally from Scotsburn, Nova Scotia, she now lives in Montreal.


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Customer Reviews

2.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Jilly the Reader on Jan. 7 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The publicity this book has received, and the fact that it is award winning, reminds me of the accolades received by many academy award winning movies. It is evident that literary scholars find this book a wonderful read. As an individual who reads books for entertainment, I found this book to be slow and without flow. Half way into the book I found myself reading the back cover to ensure that I had purchased the book whose description I had read - the synopsis on the back sounds very intriguing, but the book seemed aimless. Again, this may be because I am just a `lay person' and as such am unable to fully appreciate the author's literary genius. Similar to leaving some Oscar award winning movies, after completing this book I am left asking myself what all the fuss is about.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By GiGi on Feb. 3 2011
Format: Paperback
We all agreed: It was pretty awful! We got it read but had little to compliment. T made the only positive comment that she was glad she had read it as it gave a point for discussion about what not to do when writing. C couldn't figure out how it could have gotten the Giller award and learned that just because it got an award does not make it good. Political maneuverings go on behind awards.
We began critique with the murkiness (obfuscation was T's word choice) of the plot and writing style, which was about as bewildering as the metaphor of the town under the murky lake representing lost lives. Chronologically, the author jumps from past to present to past without helping the reader figure out where they are without great difficulty and patience. S, who likes to read for a half hour before bed fell asleep in 5 minutes. Convoluted word choices, that might have been meant to be poetic, led to reread after reread of pages to try to get the point of the sentences. I started on page 1 by reaching for my red marking pen only to realize practically every sentence was either a fragment or a run-on. There are two possibilities: a) the writing was meant to reflect a new abstruse style of post-structuralist writing or b) the author was a school dropout who never learned to write a sentence. Maybe that was purposeful as the reader had to stop and question the author's thoughts every few lines but enough was enough already. While the author tries to make the point on p. 93 that we are the center of our own stories and that there are holes in our view and memories of other's stories, there is a heck of a lot simpler way of showing it such as with proper English! We all agreed on the irresolvable sadness of unfulfilled promises in the story but the point was lost in similar murky obfuscation.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By PJ on Feb. 6 2011
Format: Paperback
The Sentamentalists: I only managed to get about 1/4 through this book before giving up. If an author can't capture my attention in the first part, then the book has a problem. I found the book boring and mundane, and the style of writing irritated me so much that my attention to the story was lost. The paragraphs are long, with misplaced phrases and abundant commas. I found this so distacting that I started looking for these commas and phrases instead of paying attention to the story which was not captivating in the least.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J.E. Whieldon on Jan. 1 2011
Format: Paperback
A friend whose opinion I respect loaned me this book. I'd not heard of the author (hardly surprising as it's her first novel) but I was interested as it had won the Giller. I think the author had a story to tell and I enjoyed most of it. The quality of writing is good but I found the punctuation irritating and a barrier to the flow of the book. There was a repetitive punctuation theme running through that went something like this...
Clause comma clause comma clause dash clause dash clause comma clause semi-colon clause full stop. This would be followed usually by two short phrases (three or four words) each ending in a full stop. Also, the new paragraph editing mark appeared at the start of every few paragraphs and was followed by several paragraphs which started with an indent. Then the paragraph mark again. I'd love to know what that was all about. I was a newspaper sub-editor for years and I kept having this urge to edit out the things that irritated me. Maybe most readers don't notice that kind of thing but I do. That aside, I think the chaotic and blurred picture of the Vietnam War was well presented along with the child's viewpoint in the first couple of parts of the novel. The author captured that sense of a child simply not noticing the things that were unfolding in the adult world around her. So I gave it four stars because I think it's worth reading and has something to say. However, I don't think it should have won the Giller.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dorothyanne Brown TOP 500 REVIEWER on Jan. 24 2011
Format: Paperback
I eagerly bought a copy of this book as an ebook when I heard the press about it. I lost entire patience with it halfway through - phrases purple with tristesse, sloppy editing, and a thin storyline that was totally inadequate for such a prize. I actually pointed out phrases that made me laugh to a stranger on the train, unable to believe such a book had received such aplomb.
I've since read "The Matter With Morris", another contender, and it was a much more mature, solid entry and much more worth the reading time.
That said, it's worth a read, if only to give you hope that you, too, could win the Giller.
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