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A Cabinet of Wonders Kindle Edition

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Length: 326 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Matchbook Price: $0.99 What's this?
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Renee Dodd has achieved something wondrous...she has taken characters we tend to shun as 'other' and made them into ourselves by involving us in their passion, their pain, and their vulnerable, hopeful laughter. A great debut!" -- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of The Mistress of Spices

"It’s a blessing to find any novel these days this ambitious and original... the prose is both elegant and robust, the storytelling both subtle and vivid, and the scale of it both epic and intimate. Finding the humanity in the denizens of a circus freak show isn't as unusual as it used to be, thank God, but doing it with such compassion, wit, and sensuality is remarkable in any era. Make no mistake about it: A Cabinet of Wonders isn't a sideshow: it’s the main attraction." -- James Hynes, author of Next and The Lecturer's Tale

From Publishers Weekly

Dugan the dwarf runs a profitable freak show (sympathetically dubbed the Cabinet of Wonders) during the tail-end of the traveling carnival's pre-Depression golden era in Dodd's debut. Mistreated in the freak show he belonged to as a child, a grownup Dugan acts at once as a father and employer to his brood of Wonders: Molly and Faye, a pubescent pair of Siamese twins, have a doubly difficult adolescence; Saffron, the Wolf Girl of India, leaves Dugan's love unrequited; and fat lady Baby Beatrice seeks the love her carousing husband, Jimmy, never gave her. As the show tours the country, Dugan struggles to maintain control over his menagerie, who begin to bristle under his authority. Dodd has a tendency toward overripe prose, particularly when describing her oddball characters ("[A]nd yet she ran on, her accreted rolls of flesh joggling under the powder pink ruffles of her costume, her strawberry blonde ringlets wilting, plastering themselves against the cherry flush of her baby-smooth forehead and cheeks"), and the smattering of first-person chapters from a grumpy hermaphrodite's point of view obfuscate the narrative, which consists of run-ins with rubes (freak-show attendees), the unraveling of Dugan's show and, most poignantly, the Wonders' search for a certain, separate dignity. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • File Size: 758 KB
  • Print Length: 326 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1612183050
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing; Reprint edition (March 13, 2012)
  • Publication Date: March 13, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00758V8CO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #270,395 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Born in Atlanta, my childhood was divided between urban and rural Georgia, so that I spent as much time drawing in the High Museum as I did hunting arrowheads in the pine woods of Elsberry Mountain. My grandfather was football hall of famer Coach Bobby Dodd-- a big-hearted man and a wonderful storyteller. My family also includes two incredibly supportive parents, a fantastic sister and sister-in-law and two brilliant nieces; and a sprawling extended family on paternal and maternal sides that is just as wonderful (and interesting) as it is huge. My husband, Allen Gee, fits in with the whole crew, by which I mean to say, he's terrific, and we have the most wonderful little girl in the world, named Willa Margie.

I earned my M.F.A. in Fiction Writing at the University of Houston, where I learned to toughen up, and revise, revise, revise. I currently live in Milledgeville, Georgia, where I sometimes teach creative writing in person or online.

I would also like you to know that Renee is pronounced like "Renny." To answer your questions in advance, it isn't short for anything, that's really how it's spelled on my birth certificate, and my father just always liked the name (and so do I, Dad).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on October 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you were blown away by Katherine Dunn's GEEK LOVE and have been looking for something else like it, keep looking or just read GEEK LOVE again! That magnificent book starts with quote and promise "This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine." and quickly introduces an operatic cast of grotesques who build to mythic levels of monstrosity which can barely be contained. This book on the other hand is about some fairly nice, differently abled peole whose main claim to fame is that they live on the road. Although each has his/her own physical deformity and single defining personality item to match the overwhelming characteristic of each freak is that it is nice person, very, VERY NICE. So nice, that I could barely tell them apart and would end up skimming back and forth several pages to see if that was the wolf girl or the fat lady or what. Remember the SIMPSONS episode where Marge gets all the splatter taken out of Itchy and Scratchy's show and they stand dumbstruck by the idea of being nice, tongues hanging out in confusion? That's how this book made me feel. That's not why I read books about freaks! Like Bart and Lisa, I went out to look at the sunset. I left this book behind in the hotel when I checked out.

I should say that like all books from TOBY PRESS, the cover and production is excellent. Unfortunately, despite much research on the part of the first time author, the story never comes across and anachronisms stand out like sore thumbs. Historically incorrect slang, however, is less damaging to the story than the forced empathies of pretended political correctness-circa 1990s- which robs this book of any impact whatsoever. This book was a major disappointment!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on September 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It's 1927 and the good times are rolling. That is unless your livelihood depends on the take at the gate. Americans are abandoning the carnivals and freak shows for the latest and greatest thing: the talkie. The freak show at the Starlight Carnival Royale's has been renamed Dugan's Cabinet of Wonders to appeal to a public more interested in the flickering of the moving picture show than what's standing before them. Rubes are still paying their nickels and dimes to see the Siamese twins, the tattooed man, the Wolf Girl, the Marvelous Morphodite, and Dugan himself, the dwarf, but money is getting tighter and tighter and the venues smaller and smaller as the carnival is about to roll into the history books.

Renee Dodd's poignant and colorful debut novel, A Cabinet of Wonders, takes readers behind the canvas to reveal the wonders of the freak Show, the Starlight's most lucrative dimension.

The main protagonist is the dwarf, Dugan, whose role is more than a businessman, scholar, and main attraction. He is also the man who keeps the show together, acting as father, lover, and confident to his merry little band of outcasts who make up the Freak Show, and indeed, his family.

Dodd's focus, which is solely on the characters in the freak show, illustrates that no matter how different our physical shells are, everyone, freak and non-freak, is pretty much the same on the inside. Her exclusive lens on this one aspect of carnival life is revealing in the way the characters make and break alliances, love, and grow in spirit, mind, and flesh. For example, the 16th birthday party for the Siamese twins, Molly and Faye, reveals the girls, joined at the hip, fascination with boys and beads, and illustrates the fine line between where the girl ends and the woman begins.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By SnowHoliday on February 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
While the premise of Renee Dodd's book is ambitious--write a novel about the performs in a sideshow, focusing on a single character in each chapter--the result is less than impressive. Dodd's characters blend into one another, each reacting in the same way to the same set of circumstances. I never really heard the "voice" of any of these characters; instead, I heard Dodd stressing over and over that these people are unique, and yet at the same time robbing them of thier individuality. For example, the descriptions and emotions described in a chapter about the twins could easily be cut and plopped down in a chapter about the "Wolf Girl." Dodd also tries too hard to write beautiful, sophisticated prose. She is obviously a talented writer, but some of her descriptions were cringe-worthy or too bogged down with themselves. While a sweet and intelligent novel that wants to highlight the humanity in these people, Cabinet of Wonders strips them of their voices, their faults, and their indiviuality, leaving them two-dimensional players in a quick and forgettable read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sabrina Munro on October 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Ms Dodd's debut novel was a pleasant surprise. "A Cabinet" conveys the colorful inner world of carnival life with remarkable warmth, humour and empathy. Dodd shows great constraint by avoiding the obvious "cliches", and instead delivers a beautifully written story of unrequited love, alienation, lust, friendship, and acceptance. I would recommend this to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider, or wondered how it felt to be the outsider. I guess that pretty much includes everyone...
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jane Dasvenport on October 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A Cabinet of Wonders is imaginative, often very funny, and full of feeling. It gives a striking look at the horror of losses -- of dignity, self-image, livelihood, purpose, love -- and the joy/grace of self-expression, forgiveness, self-acceptance, and, again at the center of it all, love. I was in awe of the imagination that could bring such complex, unusual characters to life in such a sympathetic way. Intriguing story, unforgettable images, and a moving, sometimes shocking, but quite uplifting experience to read.
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