This 1,000-page literary experiment with only one sentence reads extremely well

One-sentence book
Photo by Anastasia Zhenina, Unsplash

One book. One sentence, broken only a couple of times. Ranging nearly a 1,000 pages, it’s an outstanding story about contemporary American angst.

Lucy Ellmann’s idea for her new book Ducks, Newburyport is, without doubt, a unique one.

Occasionally interrupted by a more traditional story from the point of view of a mountain lioness, almost the entire 426,100-word novel (which is nearly twice as long as James Joyce’s Ulysses) is made up of just eight sentences.

Eight sentences without paragraph breaks, mostly comprised of a bunch of statements separated by commas. Each of which begins with the phrase “the fact that”. And spans hundreds of pages.

“How the hell is one supposed to read this?” a one-star review on Amazon asks angrily, having given up only after a couple of pages. Indeed, Ducks, Newburyport can be off-putting at first.

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann

At first, it seems infuriatingly plotless and random, unreadable for some. But after a while, bits and pieces of more momentous events begin to appear, and a dramatic and moving story about contemporary American angst begins to emerge, rewarding the reader’s persistence in the best way possible.

Those who have finished it agree almost unanimously – Ducks, Newburyport is definitely worth reading. Shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize, the novel received widespread acclaim from critics and readers alike. Both profound and extremely funny, it will make you laugh, cry, and very angry at times. “Reading Ellmann is like finding bits of broken glass in your lollipop,” the Evening Standard concludes.

But for those still not convinced, a preview is available for free to give them a feel of what it’s like reading it.

Apart from being a brilliant reflection on self-doubt, school shootings, animal cruelty, SpaghettiOs, and the human condition, Ducks, Newburyport is also an outstanding literary experiment.

Everyone should read it. It’s just one sentence, after all.

Free sample of 1000-page one-sentence novel by Lucy Ellmann
Click or tap to enlarge / You can read a free sample of Lucy Ellmann’s book on Amazon

Via The New York Times.

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